Praying with Scripture

Rather than using the Bible as a tool or a place to go to get answers, one of the best things to do with this holy Word of God is to pray with it.  The most common way of doing this is called Lectio Divina, Latin for “divine reading.”  If you give yourself a good 20 minutes to half hour or more, this can be a very rewarding practice.  I’ll give some details below.

Lectio allows us to really have God’s word get deep within us.  It opens us up to the Holy Spirit leading us to new understandings about Scripture and to move within us.

And what it does most of all is open us to hear God’s words to us fresh without bringing our own agendas and understanding to a text.  By slowing down and listening, we begin to see things that we might not have noticed before in a passage.

There are four stages to Lectio.  To that end, I’ve copied the following from another site (the United Church of Christ website), but I thought it was a great reference to describe the four stages.

In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk named Guigo described four stages in the practice of Lectio Divina.

Lectio (reading)
Read the Word of God slowly and reflectively. Any text from the Bible can be used for this purpose, but the reading should not be too long.

Meditatio (reflection)
Think quietly about the text you read it. You can read the text many times to let the words sink into your mind and heart.

Oratio (response)
Leave your thinking aside and simply let your heart speak to God.

Contemplatio (rest)
Let go of your own ideas and plans. And you can go deeper: let go of your holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level to God who speaks within you with a still, small voice.

So if you read the story of Jesus calming the sea, see Mark 4:35-41, you may after reading begin to reflect on the phrase “Peace! Be still!”  Soon your reflection on that phrase (which may last for a number of minutes with you simply saying every so often that phrase again and again) may lead you to speak to God about the storms in your own life and the longing you have for Jesus to speak those words to your storms (This would be Oratio).  Then, after some time, try to release your desires to God and open yourself up to what God may be saying to you in the midst of this.

This takes practice, and you may get frustrated that you “can’t do it right.”  You’ll be relieved to hear there is no rights way.  And, more importantly, that we are all beginners.  Sometimes this will go very well and feel very fruitful in our lives.  And other times, not so much, and we might feel discouraged because we aren’t connecting with God.

This isn’t a simple formula, but rather an invitation to spend time with God.  As you mull Scripture over in your head, it gets inside of you, shaping you into more and more the person Christ is calling you to be.  In this way, you’re able then to draw closer to God and to recognize that God desires relationship with us, and desires us to be in relationship both with others and God.