We pray before we commune with God. A spiritual thing.
We pray before we respond to someone in anger or grief. An emotional thing.
But I’m curious – does anyone pray before reading?
The newspaper, a magazine, the novel on your bedside table, a textbook from school. These are mental things. Sometimes they can be emotional and spiritual as well. Maybe even the physical comes into play – I’ve been known to have heart-pounding, breath-catching moments of suspense or fear or excitement while reading!
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)
I like the NIV version of this verse, which uses the word “pattern.” The pattern of the world is destructive. It’s negative and pessimistic and sinful. It’s proof of mankind’s Fall. A pattern is something we fall into automatically, mindlessly.
So how are our minds to be renewed if we don’t monitor what goes into them? How are we to be transformed if we don’t ask God to transform us? And how will God transform us if we don’t ask Him to do so … through prayer?
Why should it be different for books? All readers know that books can strengthen us, nourish us, give us hope, teach us something new. But how often do we pray, “God, please let the words I read give me the strength to follow You, nourish me with Your blessings and wisdom, remind me of the hope I have in You, teach me of Your depth and greatness”?
I don’t do it. I never have. That is, not until it dawned on me one day quite recently how odd that is, and how tragic. God gave me my mind, and if I’m to use it for His glory, I need to practice caution, awareness, and wisdom when choosing the words I allow to enter it and, what’s more, the ways I allow those words to transform me.
And what better way to do that than prayer?