A Prayer for Students of Theology

Theology is first and foremost an act of worship. The theological student joyously contemplates the Triune God in a relation of dependence u...

Theology is first and foremost an act of worship. The theological student joyously contemplates the Triune God in a relation of dependence upon divine self-revelation. Accordingly, theology without prayer is blind, dead, and empty. In this blog post I share one of my favorite prayers for theological students, provided by one of the greatest theologians in church history.
"Theological work can be done only in the indissoluble unity of prayer and study," wrote Karl Barth. "Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind."

Study without prayer is stripped of vitality. In theology we contemplate a personal and relational God, who freely reveals himself to us and teaches us about himself. We cannot contemplate him apart from these divine acts -- the speaking of the Word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. In prayer we appropriate a posture of expectant hope and receptivity, eagerly awaiting and seeking the One who renews minds and draws creatures into fellowship with himself.

The following prayer, traditionally attributed to Thomas Aquinas, is one of my favorites. I think it exemplifies the aforementioned approach and posture. The translation from the Latin is by John Webster.
"Ineffable Creator . . .
You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin raised high beyond all things.
Pour forth a ray of your brightness
into the darkened places of our minds;
disperse from our souls
the twofold darkness of sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants:
refine our speech and pour forth upon our lips
the goodness of your blessing.

Grant to us keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.
May you guide the beginning of our work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion,
for you are true God and true Man,
who live and reign,
world without end."

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