31 days with St Ignatius – Day 3: praying the scriptures

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Day 3 of this guide to Ignatian Spirituality is about an old spiritual practice called ‘Lectio Divina’ – it is a way of reading scripture that I find very helpful. Why not try it out if you’re struggling to read the bible or you’ve never read it before?

Here is an extract from today’s guide (the full article is here: <a href="http://ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-what-how-why-of-prayer/praying-with-scripture/):

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Lectio Divina

This method of prayer goes back to the early monastic tradition. There were not bibles for everyone and not everyone knew how to read. So the monks gathered in chapel to hear a member of the community reading from the scripture. In this exercise they were taught and encouraged to listen with their hearts because it was the Word of God that they were hearing.

When a person wants to use Lectio Divina as a prayer form today, the method is very simple. When one is a beginner, it is better to choose a passage from one of the Gospels or epistles, usually ten or fifteen verses. Here is a way of engaging in this prayer form which is relaxing and rather easy.

  • Select a passage from one of the Gospels in which Jesus is interacting with others.  
  • Recall what one is doing in engaging with the Word of God and what one desires from this encounter. God is present and because God is present one relies on God.
  • Read the Gospel passage twice so that the story and the details of the story become familiar.  
  • Close one’s eyes and reconstruct the scene in one’s imagination. See what is going on and watch the men and women in the scene. What does Jesus look like? How do the others react to him? What are the people saying to one another? What emotions fill their words? Is Jesus touching someone? As one enters into the scene, sometimes there is the desire to be there. So a person can place oneself in the scene, perhaps as an observer, as one lining up for healing, or as one helping others to Jesus.  
  • Some people’s imaginations are very active so they construct a movie-like scenario with a Gospel passage. Others will enter the scene with verbal imagination, reflecting on the scene and mulling over the actions. Vividness is not a criteria for the effectiveness of this kind of prayer. Engagement is and the result is a more interior knowledge of Jesus.  
  • As one finishes this time of prayer, one should take a moment to speak person to person with Christ saying what comes from the heart.

 

From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press. Used with permission.

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