Praying with Scripture

Time with Jesus: Meditation and Sacred Reading  

Before you begin to pray with Scripture
Choose a passage of Scripture for prayer.  This may be done the day before, using a bible, or a missal with readings from the Mass for that Day.

Relax and focus in preparation for prayer:
If sitting in a chair, it is best if the back is straight and your feet are on the floor.        
Focus on your breathing. Not too fast, deep or shallow.
• Ask God’s Spirit to be with you
• As you breath in, imagine God’s Spirit, life, light, love and peace coming into every part of you.
• Ask for a ‘grace,’ a personal gift, that you desire (for example, patience, peace, love ….) or ask to be shown what you need most, so that you may ask for it!
• You may simply want to continue quietly focusing on God’s loving presence with you.
• Begin to pray with the Scripture passage that you have chosen.
•The following pages show two ways of praying with Scripture;
Praying with Scripture
Give each of the following forms of prayer a certain amount of time. 5 or 10 minutes could be a good to begin with. This could be lengthened as you grow more accustomed to the prayer form. Choose the form that suits you best.
1.    Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading)
•    Begin by acknowledging the presence of God with you and asking God’s Spirit to be with you. Ask for what your heart desires at this time.
•    Read a passage. Pause each time a word or phrase ‘stands out’ for you and stay with each for as long as you feel that you want to stay. You may repeat the word or phrase gently. You may stay with this Word of God for you, or move on to another. You may read the text only once or return and re-read.

2.    Ignatian Prayer  (After St. Ignatius)
•    Ask God’s Spirit to be with you and guide you during this time of prayer.
•    Read a passage of the Gospels through once.
•    Use your imagination to place yourself in the story, perhaps as one of the characters.  Become part of the action.  If you find yourself being spoken to by Jesus, listen well to what he says, and notice what your communication is with him. Let the meditation unfold. You may be led in unexpected ways.
Before concluding, you may wish to imagine Jesus, God, the Spirit, or perhaps Mary saying some last word to you and your response.

After your time of meditation open your eyes and remain still at first.  
Begin to attend slowly to the present place and time before moving into the next part of your day.
Keeping a Prayer Journal
After a short break, you may like to spend a few minutes writing about your prayer.
The following questions may be helpful:
For Lectio Divina;
• What happened in your prayer?  
• What words or phrases stood out for you?
• What was the mood of your prayer?  What did you feel?
For imaginative contemplation:
• What did you experience?
• If ‘nothing seemed to happen’ try to describe what this was like.
• Who was with you in your prayer? What did you feel?   Were there some parts that have stayed with you in a special way?
Looking back over your prayer journal from time to time can be helpful. Perhaps you may begin to notice some pattern in God’s communication with you and your response.

Passages of Scripture which may be helpful for prayer
Psalms 8, 23, 63, 131, 139
Isaiah 25; 40; 43:1-7; 45:9-13; 54:4-10; 55
Jeremiah 31:31-4
Ezekial 36:22-6
Hosea 11:1-8
Wisdom 11:21-12:2
John 15:1-17
Romans 8:28-39
Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:14-21
Philippians 2:1-11
Colossians 1:14-20

As for meditative prayer forms above, you may wish to make a set time for this prayer, eg. 5 or 10 minutes to begin with.

•    Focus on Breathing first. The words for ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ in Hebrew (ruah) and Greek are the same (pneuma).  Understand your breath as God’s Spirit & Life coming into you.
•    Breathe in God’s Spirit, light, love, life and power into every part of yourself.  
•    As you breathe out, imagine letting go anything that is unhelpful.  
•    You may like to simply continue in this breath prayer, focusing on the presence of God’s loving presence with you.

4. Centring Prayer or Mantra
•    Choose a prayer word or phrase that is simple and may be prayed over and over.
•    Relax, then focus on breathing as above.
•    Begin breath prayer as above.
•    Rest in the presence of God in an attitude of love and emptying yourself of everything else that is worrying or otherwise unhelpful. The prayer word or phrase will help you to do this.
•    Begin to say prayer word or phrase repeatedly, gently.
•    If any distractions or memories keep returning (as they will) just gently put them aside with the prayer word.
•    Be aware of God’s presence and love.

Sources for possible prayer words or phrases:
A title for God, Jesus, Spirit: Jesus, Lord God, God of Love, Spirit of Truth…..
Or prayer may be formed from different phrases:
Come, Lord Jesus…..or Jesus Christ……or God my Father…..or Holy Spirit
…..    touch my heart            ……    hear me
….    be with me                   …..    be my guide
            help me                            give me faith
            hold me close                    take my hand
            stay with me                     show me the way
            teach me

5.    Christian Meditation

Meditative prayer forms, such as those listed above, may naturally lead into a contemplative prayer form for many people.
•    Meditation is above all a quest. the mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. the required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books....: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the "today" of God is written. [CCC 2705]
•    There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly ...But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus. [CCC 2707]
•    Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.  [CCC 2708]

 Contemplative Prayer
Some people like to describe contemplation as simply resting in God’s presence. Some see it as a kind of ‘looking’ at God and listening with the heart. We do not have to ‘do’ much in this form of prayer. There is an attentive waiting for God to meet us and to be with us.
•    What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."6 .....[CCC 2709]
•    Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son. [ CCC 2712]
•    Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. ...Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, "to his likeness."  [CCC 2713]
•    Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus ....the more to love him and follow him.11 [CCC 2715]
•    Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the "Yes" of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid. [CCC 2716]
•    Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come"12 or "silent love."13 ….[CCC2717]