Lectio Divina When we pray with the scriptures, we are engaged with God’s word personally. In praying scripture, the imagination is engaged and we dwell with the text instead of thinking about the text. In the tradition of the church, the praying of scripture was known as lectio divina – the process of divine reading of scripture.
Here is one way to understand how to practice lectio divina:
- Lectio (to read): If a lesson is read in public, it should be read very slowly and clearly so that the listeners can fully hear it. If you read it alone, you may want to read it more than once aloud until you have made it your own.
- Meditatio (to meditate): Enter the passage fully. Be present to it, enter into it, and let it engage you completely and personally. Exercise you imagination and experience the text.
- Oratio (to pray): Converse with God about your experience. Reflect on this piece of scripture until God reveals to you some insights and implications for your life of faith.
- Contemplatio (to contemplate): Be silent before God, empty your conscious mind, and open yourself to receive the grace God desires to give you so that you might, with God’s help, live out the implications of your conversation with God.
Prayer of Examen Use this tip sheet with The Lord’s Prayer to guide your small group in the Prayer of Examen.
Rewrite psalm or Scripture Select a favorite passage in Scripture. Patiently read through the words. Then, in your own words or perhaps a different style (such as text language, Country girl, Shakespeare thespian), rewrite the passage to reflect God’s word to you.
Use a favorite hymn as the starting point of your prayer. Listen to the music and words. Reflect on the author’s choice of phrases, musical key, patterns evident in the score. Note the feelings evoked in you upon listening. What memories does the piece recall? What or who are you being prompted to pray for today?
Prayer Walking Prayer walking with your group can be done in a very natural setting, stopping at various places for prayer and reflection. Or it can be done around a campus or in town pausing at different places for prayers of intercession.
The Five-Finger Prayer
|Thumb||Pray for one of God’s workers.|
|Pointing Finger||Pray for a leader.|
|Middle Finger||Pray for an enemy.|
|Ring Finger||Pray for someone close to you.|
|Pinky||Pray for someone small; “the least of these.”|
Visio Divina God speaks to us in many ways–through relationships, our experiences, sacred texts such as the Bible and many more. Visio divina, Latin for divine seeing, is praying with images to listen to God’s words.
- Read the text (in this case art) slowly, taking a first glance noting the colors, people, places and things. Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.
- Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
- Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
- Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.
Pray As You Go. www.pray-as-you-go.org Pray as you go is a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable MP3 players, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc. A new prayer session is produced every day of the working week and one session for the weekend. It is not a ‘Thought for the Day’, a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer. Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection.
Learning to Listen As a group, journey individually to a quiet place to experience silence, rest, reflection, and prayer. Scatter about and spend time reflecting on the sounds, smells, and general environment around you. What do these tell you about God? …about your relationship with God? …about your group’s spiritual transformation? The following passages may be helpful in your time alone.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Ps. 37:7)
“Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went to a solitary place.” (Mk. 6:31, 32)
Specific Member Requests Have each member write down requests for the week on a piece of paper. Fold the piece of paper and put it in a bowl. Members agree to pray for the person through the coming week. Reflect on our group learning about Intercession.
Write a Conversation Write a dialogue with a person from scripture. Select a favorite story from the Bible and place yourself in a character’s role. For example: you may be the Samaritan Woman at the well encountering Jesus during the mid-day; or you may be a member of the community that sees the Samaritan Woman talking with Jesus at the well; or you may be one of the disciples commenting on Jesus talking with the Samaritan Woman at the well. Don’t’ worry about whether or not it is really what Jesus or another character would have said. The responses that come to mind as your write the dialogue become a vehicle of self-discovery in relation to God. And you may arrive at new insights into scripture as well as greater self-knowledge. Prayer is a process of discovering ourselves more fully in God’s love.
Gospel Meditation (Being There): Similar to writing a conversation, in gospel meditation, choose a passage from one of the gospels. Read it slowly. Daydream about it, imagining you’re there. Perhaps you’re a bystander watching Jesus, or the person talking to Jesus. Try playing various roles in the scene. Use your imagination to add details. Put yourself into the story via your five senses: What do you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell? By being there, you’re spending time with Jesus.
Breath prayer A breath prayer is a short prayer that can be prayed in the space of one breath. Usually a breath prayer combines a name for God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit with a deep desire of your soul, forming a single sentence you pray. It focuses on God but names your deepest need. Sometimes, it’s a form of confession or self-examination. A classic breath prayer used for centuries comes from Luke 18:13: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Prayer of Presence Find a posture that allows you to be relaxed and alert. It helps to have your neck and spine aligned. Close your eyes and breathe deeply several times. Consciously release any muscle tension you become aware of. Breathe in peace; breathe out tension.
Relax your mind. If particular thoughts keep returning, gather them up and give them to God to hold for you during this time. You can take them back later if you want.
Turn your attention to God’s presence. Let yourself be fully aware of the mystery of divine love that continually surrounds and upholds us. God is breathing life into you at each moment; take in the gift.
Let God’s presence fill your consciousness and simply rest in this presence. Let yourself be like a child cradled in the lap of a wonderful parent or grandparent; or perhaps gently supported in an ocean of light. Let yourself be held in God’s tender embrace; rest and soak up the love that holds you.
Close your prayer by thanking God for any gifts received in this time. You can return to this communion of presence whenever you choose to receive it.