Monday, March 10, 2014

Teach us to pray: 5

Praying with the Bible: Lectio Divina

This technique of pondering the Bible originates with the Benedictine monastic order. Lectio Divina literally means "Holy Reading". If we believe that God can speak to us through the words of the Bible then we need to have our ears open when we hear it, not just hearing the surface meaning, but listening for what God might be saying to us through it.

The technique of Lectio Divina asks us to read slowly and to repeat to ourselves words or phrases which stand out to us. While we also might want to ask all sorts of other questions about the passage - what its context is, how the original hearers might have understood it etc. - the focus when we read this way is to be open for what the passage says to us in our own situation. It is important to realise that this won't give us an indepth or critical understanding of the passage; that is something that is also needed, but doesn't always lend itself to prayer.

This week I'd like to invite you to try using this "Lectio Divina" technique during your prayer time.
I have simply chosen one of the set Psalms for each day.

Sit quietly and be aware of coming into the presence of God. Ask for God's help as you read so that you can hear his voice.
Read the passage several times slowly.
As you read , be aware of any particular word or phrase which stands out for you.
Repeat that word or phrase to yourself over and over slowly, like a mantra. Allow yourself to be aware of any thoughts or associations that come to your mind as you repeat the words and just stay with those thoughts. As your prayer time ends, be aware of what thoughts or questions you might be taking away from it, and thank God for these.

Psalm 19: 7-end

The law of the Lord is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
   making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
   enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
   enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
   and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
   even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
   and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
   Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
   do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
   and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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