Begin with Prayer
Luther has been quoted previously on the diligent hard work required to gain understanding of the Scripture. He did not, however, believe that hard work was the key necessity. Without the Spirit of God, no one, however intelligent or studious, can expect to understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, it behooves us to begin our studies in prayer (James 1:5).
It is absolutely certain that one cannot enter into the [meaning of] Scripture by study or innate intelligence. Therefore your first task is to begin with prayer. You must ask that the Lord in His great mercy grant you a true understanding of His words, should it please Him to accomplish anything through you for His glory and not for your glory or that of any other man. For there is no one who can teach the divine words except He who is their Author, as He says: “They shall all be taught of God” (John 6:45). You must therefore completely despair of your own diligence and intelligence and rely solely on the infusion of the Spirit. Believe me, for I have had experience in this matter.
—Martin Luther, cited in The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther(Reformation Trust, 2013), 46.