Prayer is not the seasoning for the real meat of Bible study. It is not a necessary additive to the real work of the church. It is not something we do briefly before we begin to worship. It is not to be a perfunctory way of opening to a sermon. I think it might better be thought of as the marinade that must saturate every aspect of Bible study. Prayer is the fire that cooks real spiritual meat; that warms the fellowship; that empowers discipleship; that prepares everything we do for and by God on the earth.
My nephew once told me a story from the church in China. A traveling evangelist was introducing the gospel to two remote mountain villages. He was very much afraid he would not be able to return to these new believers for many months. So he devised a plan to disciple them in his absence. He painted scriptures on small rocks and gave them to individuals in the villages. He told each person to memorize the verse and pray over it all day every day for a month. Then they were to share with the church what God told them in their verses. The man needed to leave before any believers were at all mature in the faith. And sure enough he was away even longer than he expected. Years had gone by before he was finally able to make his was back. He feared he would not find anyone remaining faithful. But when he arrived he found the churches thriving with many strong leaders in their midst.
What would God do in your life if you memorized a single scripture and prayed and meditated over it day and night for a month?