But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ~Matthew 6:6~
Whew, what a week! Have you all had “one of those” weeks lately? Ugh! Mine hit THIS week! No running (except from class to class), eating junk and loads of caffeine (just to keep going), mid-terms to grade, one class ending, one class starting, responsibilities for board meeting next week, and on it goes!
My week is no worse than anyone else, but why is it “those” weeks come with added stress and 1000 things that never seem to get done? Well, enough whining…..I’m actually excited about today’s post because I learned something new while researching and writing it!
Today’s post is the 3rd in a series of posts about developing a creative prayer life. The “creative” part simply means finding ways through prayer, meditation, and artistic endeavors to keep you focused and devoted to praying every day of your life. If you missed the first two parts you can read Part 1 about getting serious with prayer and learning how to Doodle a Prayer. Part 2 will teach you how to pray independently and show you how to create a Deomai prayer.
This week’s post was meant to be a short and sweet post on praying scriptures, but once I did a little research and then saw the movie War Room, it has grown into one that may need to be divided into two parts!
So, I will cover the guidelines for Lectio Divina-style prayers this week and personalizing prayers next week.
As I began researching information about praying scriptures, I ran across a term I had seen before, but really didn’t know what it meant. The term, Lectio Divina, literally means “divine reading”, “sacred reading” or “holy reading”. The practice of reading or praying scriptures originated over a thousand years ago with monks who spent most of their days in prayer. NO, I’m not going to suggest you spend most of your day praying or reading scriptures! I would never make it as a monk!
Anyway, as those devoted monks read the scriptures, they noticed how certain words, phrases, or verses stuck out and “spoke” to them in a personal kind of way. Maybe it was sort of like how we highlight or bold words in text today.
And not that I can do this type of prayer every day, but I’m going to give it a shot at least a couple of times a week. I hope you’ll try it with me. Remember, this series is all about finding ways to communicate with the Lord that help us focus and commit to a purposeful prayer life.
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, & HOW??????
Okay, here is the skinny on Lectio Divina…..
WHO can do it? Anyone (that means you and me) who wants to have an intimate way to communicate with the Lord
WHAT is it? Lectio Divina (pronounced “lec-tsee-oh di-vee-nah”) is the reading of a portion (a few verses or chapters) of the Bible with intentional meditation and reflection. Ultimate goal is less talk, MORE listening!
WHEN can you do it? Any time you have 15-30+ minutes that you can give to truly concentrating on prayer.
WHERE can it be done? Anywhere you can find a place free of distraction (bedroom, office, bathroom – hey, don’t judge!, closet, outside, etc.)
HOW do you do it? So glad you asked! My research uncovered several resources about Lectio Divina (see Resources below), but all seemed to share the same four basic guidelines for practicing this type of prayer.
THE STAGE BEFORE THE FIRST STAGE
Okay, that was a bad subtitle, but there IS a step or stage before you really sit down to pray. You need to get yourself physically and mentally ready. Not to get all “meditative” on you, but you do need to be in the right frame of mind to do this type of praying. It’s not a quick, prayer pop. It’s a sit-read-meditate-pray-reflect kinda prayer, so it will take some time.
One resource says to give yourself 15-60 minutes. Tell you the truth…..I’ll have to build up to an hour! Start small and build from there.
Once you have your place, your time, and your mind set on praying, grab your Bible (or app), a notebook, a pen, and settle in for a little while.
Stage 1: Lectio – Reading
- Find a passage you want to focus on (reading plans, specific book of the Bible, a theme – remember Open Bible is a great resource for topics).
- Make it something you are familiar with – do NOT jump into something totally new – this is about digging into something you know about and want to go deeper, not learning a whole new something!
- Example: I took 2 Chronicles 7:14 as my verse to try. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
- Read your verse(s) like you are reading a letter. Read through it Think about each and every word.
Stage 2: Meditatio – Reflection
- Visualize the passage. Put yourself in the scripture(s).
- Focus on what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to you through the words that stood out when you read it.
- Some of my words were: IF, HUMBLE, SEEK MY FACE, TURN, I WILL, HEAL
- Ask yourself: Are the words relevant to something going on in your life right now? Are you reminded of a struggle? Do others come to mind when you read it? Do you sense change needing to happen?
- Ask the Lord to illuminate what you are reading.
- Meditate on what He is trying to show you and really focus on understanding what His Word was written to teach you.
Stage 3: Oratio – Response
- Take all the feelings you may be feeling and offer them up to God in prayer (If you are thankful for something, then praise and thank Him. If you’re feeling convicted, then ask for forgiveness and guidance on how to move forward.)
- Talk to Him like you are talking to your best friend. He is waiting to hear from you.
Stage 4: Contemplatio – Rest
- This is a time to contemplate, to be quiet, and listen. Pay attention to the Spirit.
- Let go of all the stresses in your life and just “be” with Him.
- Slowly be transformed from the inside out into what He wants you to be.
- As you naturally come to the close of your time with this passage, you may feel led to go to another verse and continue the Lectio Divina stages or you may feel like it is time to close for the day. Either way, end your time with a prayer of thanksgiving.
WANNA GIVE IT A TRY?
Well, how does that sound? Sounds like a great action plan to me. After seeing War Room last night, I realized I need to be much more “strategic” with my prayers and maybe Lectio Divina is just the thing to help me get there.
Below are just a few of the resources I found helpful for learning about Lectio Divina, but there are many, many more. Use what helps you.
If you give Lectio Divina a try this week please share your experience below in the comments. Did practicing Lectio Divina take you to a deeper place in your prayer life? I would love to hear how you carved out time, where you prayed, and how you chose your verses.
Remember to please pass this blog post on to anyone you think would benefit from getting a little “creative” with their prayer life and don’t forget to sign up for the blog so you won’t miss any new posts.
Jump over to the Art Stuff page to see this week’s art journal prompt with Acrostic Prayers.