Bible Study and Prayer

Dear brothers and sisters,

First of all, I want to say again how grateful and excited I am about the Rev. Alex Farmer being our bishop-elect. I am so thankful for his faith, gifts, experience, and sense of calling to be the next bishop of our diocese. I am also grateful for the Rev. John Wallace’s willingness to be a part of our discernment process and his significant gifts and ministry among us.

I am at a season of transition in life where my heart resonates with the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, ESV). So for the next few Communiques, I want to focus on three topics, three things that I believe are critically important for the life of followers of Jesus. Today I want to consider Bible study and prayer, just for a moment.

Jesus came at a time in history when many of his fellow Jews knew the Scriptures very well. Jesus rarely tells people to study the Scriptures. Instead, he seems to assume that they know the Scriptures, and yet they are often missing the fact that he is the center of the Bible (see Luke 24:27, John 5:39-40.) We are biblical illiterates in comparison to most of the people that Jesus encountered.

So let me give you two key challenges:

First of all, study the Scriptures on your own, which is best as a daily habit. There are two related questions to ask yourself about anything read. The first one is, “What does this teach me about Jesus?” The second is, “What does Jesus teach me to think and do here?” (Matthew 28:20)

My second challenge is to pray for the expansion of the kingdom of God. Jesus tells us to pray for more harvesters (Luke 10:2). Paul likewise challenges his readers to pray for kingdom advancement: “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you…” (2 Thessalonians 3:1, ESV).

With so many things for us to pray for, why do I focus on this one thing? I share it for two primary purposes. We need to remember that the center of our life needs to be Jesus and his kingdom, and not ourselves. Secondly, such prayers help us think about how our lives are affecting others for the sake of the gospel.

These challenges are for me as well as for you. You are listening in on my own struggles to get my eyes off myself and focused on Jesus.

May the Lord Jesus bless and equip each of you as you study his word and pray for the expansion of his kingdom.

In Jesus the Messiah,


The Rt. Rev. Neil G. Lebhar
Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese