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In Eric W. Gritsch's book, A History of Lutheranism, he reports,

He memorized whole portions of the Bible (available in the Latin translation of St. Jerome, c. 348-420) and used various existing methods of interpretation. "Sometimes one important statement occupied my thoughts for a whole day," Luther recalled later, and he reminded others that Bible study should always begin with prayer rather than the assumption that diligence and intelligence would facilitate a proper reading.

Luther found this kind of approach to Bible study confirmed in the writings of the great church father Augustine rather than in the scholars of the Middle Ages. What Augustine had to say in The Spirit and the Letter (De spiritu et litera) decisively shaped Luther's early struggles with the Bible.

The author cites a primary source, one of Martin Luther's letters.

Anyway, is this where all modern Christians get their prayer-before-Bible-study habit? How did individualized Bible study evolve since the Reformation?

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The history of lectio divina might be helpful here. – svidgen Mar 16 '14 at 14:36

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The common practice of praying before a study predating Luther's statement was likely taken and said to be beneficial from Daniel 2:18-19 ("That they should beseech the God of heaven for grace in this secret, that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babel. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a vision by night: therefore Daniel praised the God of heaven.")

Luther's statement was likely influenced by such practice, with his statement giving assurance to those who heard that prayer before biblical study is useful.

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Daniel (2:18-19) prayed and was given understanding of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

Acts 4 both has prayer (v 31) and study/recollection of the Word (v 25), among others as proclamation, outpouring of Holy Spirit, unity, place shaking.

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So your answer is? – wax eagle Feb 28 '14 at 16:37

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