Prayer

The 1596 Book of Common Prayer

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Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading or holy reading. This traditional Christian practice of prayer and scriptural reading is intended to draw a person into the presence of God through reading, listening, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. Lection Divina is a slow, deliberate type of prayer where God teaches us to seek him in silence and listen for his voice. The steps for practicing Lectio Divina are as follows:

First, choose a section of scripture that you would like to read and pray. How you choose the scripture is up to you: you can choose randomly, use a guide such as The Book of Common Prayer, or simply start at the beginning of a book in the Bible and work your way through to the end. You don’t have to set a goal for how much scripture you will read – the goal is to experience the presence of God and to listen for his voice.

Second, find a comfortable, quiet place and prepare to hear from God. You don’t have to sit in some kind of lotus-crossed-leg position; just get comfortable. Some people concentrate on their breathing or on repeating a “prayer phrase” (such as “Lord have mercy”) in order to become focused. Do whatever helps you prepare to hear from God.

Third, when you feel that you are ready, begin to slowly read the scriptural passage you selected. Savor each word. As you read, pay attention to any word, phrase, or idea that catches your attention.

Fourth, begin to meditate on the word, phrase, or idea that caught your attention. Repeat it over and over again. Don’t be afraid of tangential thoughts, memories, or ideas; in fact, you should pay attention to the thoughts, memories, and hopes that come to mind during meditation. As you concentrate on the scriptural phrase or idea, offer the things that come into your mind back to God.

Fifth, begin to speak to God. Tell God what word, phrase, or idea from your reading caught your attention, and what came to mind while you meditated. Ask God to use this word, phrase, or idea to transform you and to bring you closer to him.

Finally, focus on the fact that God is present with you in this moment. If you feel prompted to return to the scripture passage, or to pray again, do so; just do these things in the knowledge that God is with you.

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  1. Kent Burel

    Got a question from a parishoner just now and I think it would spark a good discussion. “How am I supposed to pray for Osama Bin Laden?”

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