When I think of prayer, I often picture myself sitting there, asking for answers, waiting, and trying to hear or see a reply. Or maybe I am on the run and throw out a quick thank you, help me with x please, or a prayer for a friend’s request. But in reality, what every spiritual mentor has tried to teach me, and all the Saints seem to write on is the importance of Scripture being a part of their prayer. The reality is the Bible is the Word of God. So let’s grab a Bible and get started!
His living Word is the medium that God most commonly speaks through to his people both instructively and personally. Without it, prayer is lonely because it is just me talking, I don’t truly listen, and I feel alone and unanswered. We desire to heal, to know God’s will for us, and know he is real. So let’s watch this video and learn how to make prayer a conversation, and see ourselves as God sees us:
Starting to Pray
When I first sat down to pray, honestly, I was scared that it wouldn’t work because for me, this would be another proof that God does not exist. But the Holy Spirit started to work through me, and I was able to hear Jesus, my savior and God, my Father, speak to me. The Book of John is a place I continuously return because of all the fruit it has bore for me throughout the years and those very first attempts.
I will always recommend the Book of John as an incredible starting place or somewhere to return. Maybe we both can commit to restarting again tomorrow, right there? Because let’s face it, prayer is hard, and it will be a process of recommitting to spend increasing time daily in the Word.
The Healing Power of Prayer
“The Word is God,” and He is “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it” (John 1:1-5). His light has broken through my depression, anxiety, PTSD, identity crises, additions, and sins and grown me in incomprehensible ways. There is still much work to be done, but my journey is flooded in light, guiding me and holding me. This light shone through the Word of God as I developed a daily personal prayer life founded in Lectio Divina. To say this changed my life is an understatement. This prayer is how and why I do everything!
Slowing Down to Read
Lectio Divina, or the Divine reading, challenges us to slow down, be present in the moment and savor a conversation. It starts with invoking the Holy Spirit, offering divine praises, asking God to speak to us, and acknowledging that he is truly God. We then read carefully, paying attention to all the verbs and nouns, rereading the same passage two or three times.
The goal is not quantity but quality. This challenges my goal-focused, type A personality that sees the good in doing, and achieving great things. I am tempted to make the desired outcome be how much I read instead of the depth of reflection.
I think of how God gave the Israelites the ten commandments, and specifically the Sabbath. Why did God have to give this as a commandment? He was trying to teach people who had grown up as slaves how to be children.
I may not have ever experienced slavery in Egypt, but in many ways I have made myself a slave instead of a daughter. I am still working on learning how to be loved, not seeing my worth in what I achieve or do. But the way God calls me as a daughter is to do great acts of love and to love well, which requires slowing down and allowing myself to be loved, to rest, to listen. As we slowly read, we note what has stood out to us, underline it, and/or recorded it in a journal.
Taking time to Meditate
We take this reading and enter into meditation to allow our mind to reflect on our careful reading. What does it mean in context? Maybe you look something up quickly, but this shouldn’t be the focus as this is not Bible Study time but time to have a conversation. We think about what stood out and why. How did it make me feel, what emotion we experience, and why? We think of how these words or phrases apply to my own life, thinking about the images it brings to mind, or we can imagine ourselves there in the story.
Moving into Prayer, Contemplation, and Action
Then we pray. Here is the time for dialogue: to talk, ask, and praise God. We often skip the first two steps. We try to have a conversation with God without allowing him to speak to us. We do not find or hear his answers and desire to look elsewhere for calming, peace, or truth, but we have failed to truly listen. The Bible facilitates a topic, application and allows God to answer our questions and longings. It is the missing key.
We then move into contemplation, just taking time to rest in the presence of God, to listen to him, and to experience an exchange of love. After taking this time, we move into our resolution, the action that we bring forth. The critical difference between Christian and Eastern meditation is that we do not want to empty ourselves but fill ourselves with Christ, with the Holy Spirit, having experienced the love of our Father. We take this, and we move into action, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
We can do this by recalling the verse that stood out to us throughout our day. We can write out our reflections, allowing ourselves to recall the truths God is speaking into us. We can use these to form concrete, measurable resolutions that we will achieve in a set amount of time. We call these SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Try not to make these too general.
We challenge you to enter into a commitment of 15 minutes in daily Scripture prayer. We genuinely believe that this will transform your life and the world. To learn more, watch this video and use the discussion questions below for personal or group reflection:
How To Really Pray With Scripture
- Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that we cannot love what we do not know. How do you come to know God so that you can learn to fall in love with him?
- Pope Benedict the XVI discussed, “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime.” Do you believe the practice of Lectio Divina could renew the Church and your life? Why or why not? Have you experienced this intimate dialogue before?
- Things that are not scheduled more often than not, do not happen. When do you pray? Where? What Book of the Bible are you praying through right now?
- How do you practically translate your prayer time into your day? Do you write down and recite a keyword, phrase, or verse throughout the day? Do you write down your reflections? Write down your resolutions and provide self-feedback the next day on how it went and if you followed through to where God was calling you? What do you want to start doing?
Saint Frances de Sales highlighted the danger of reflecting on virtue but not putting it into practice because we began to think too highly of ourselves. By only reflecting, we believe that we are growing in these areas and have mastered them, but when we fail to commit to resolutions, we don’t make substantial changes in our lives. Will you commit to a daily prayer life with Scripture?