Two ways to pray with Scripture

Overview


We need to spend time with Jesus.  As with all who are dear to us, spending time together is important for relationships to grow and to strengthen. Prayer based on the Gospels helps us to grow closer to Jesus and become more like him. Scripture based prayer may involve pondering stories, images, words, or wordless silent companionship with God and Jesus Christ.

Allow a certain amount of time for your prayer, perhaps 10 – 15 minutes, to begin with. This may be lengthened as you grow more accustomed to the prayer form. Choose the form that suits you best.

Sacred Reading


Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading)

Saint Benedict and many monastic communities followed this way.

A Scripture passage (eg. from a Gospel) is often the focus of the prayer form called Lectio Divina
(sacred reading). You may also choose to draw on a traditional prayer.

•    Begin by acknowledging the presence of God with you
•    Know that God is looking at you and loving you.
•    Ask for what your heart most deeply desires at this time (eg. Peace)
•    Read the passage. Then allow silent time.

•    Re- read the passage.
•    Pause when a word or phrase ‘stands out’ for you

•    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.
       You may read the text only once or return and re-read it.
       It may be that you do not ‘finish’ the reading.

•    Listen to God, Jesus, the Spirit
•    Respond as the Spirit leads you.
•    Conclude with your own prayer or the ‘Our Father’ or ‘Glory Be.”

Passages of Scripture which may be helpful for ‘lectio divina’
Psalm 139
Isaiah 54:4-10; 55
Jeremiah 31:31-4
Ephesians 3:14-20
A text from from a Gospel; Mark, Matthew, Luke or John.


Ignatian prayer


Imaginative Contemplation (Ignatian prayer)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught this way of praying.
A Gospel scene is an ideal Scripture text for this prayer form.

•    Begin by acknowledging the presence of God with you
•    Know that God is looking at you and loving you.
•    Ask for what your heart most deeply desires at this time (eg. Peace)
•    Read the passage. Then allow silent time.

•    Use your imagination to place yourself in the story, perhaps as one of the characters.  
Become part of the action.
•    Let the meditation unfold. Notice what happens. You may be led in unexpected ways.

•    As you complete your time of prayer, you may wish to imagine Jesus, God, the Spirit,
or perhaps Mary saying some last word to you, and your response.
•    Conclude with your own prayer or the ‘Our Father’ or ‘Glory Be.”


More Information

Ignatian Spirituality
Resources from Loyola Press for prayer and spirituality in the tradition of St Ignatius of Loyola. Click here to visit.

Keeping a Prayer Journal
It can be helpful to keep a Prayer Journal to record your experience of praying with Scripture.  After a short break following the time of prayer, spend a few minutes writing.
The following questions may be helpful:

Prayer Journal – Process 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?

Prayer Journal – Process 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.
You may begin to notice some pattern in God’s communication with you and your response.

Items of Interest

Psalms and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass readings.

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