Deepen prayer life with ‘lectio divina’ this Lent

| March 12, 2015

NienstedtBlSt. Paul tells the Ephesians and us:

“At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort. Pray constantly and attentively for all in the holy company” (Ephesians 6:18).

At the beginning of Lent, I wrote a column in which I spoke of the interrelationship of the three elements of our Lenten devotion, namely, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In this column, I would like to focus on the aspect of prayer as an essential component of our observance of Lent.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment” (No. 2697). But in order to pray at every moment, we need to set aside specific times for more focused and intense prayer.

It is good to have formulated prayers that we recite with daily regularity, such as morning and evening prayers, grace before and after meals, or the Liturgy of the Hours. The Eucharist is the summit of the Church’s communal prayer, expressed in the cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts. By being attentive to the meaning of these formulated prayers, we are able to make them our own.

In addition, there are many different approaches to prayer reflected in the varied spiritualities in the Church. One method that I have personally found helpful and which I have recommended is “lectio divina.” The format is quite straight-forward:

First, I take a passage from Scripture (any passage will do, as God can use any passage to communicate with us), and I read it out loud slowly and deliberately with what St. Benedict calls “the ears of my heart.” In doing so, I make a mental note of a word or phrase that seems to jump out at me.

Secondly, I pause after the first reading and then re-read the passage in the same manner as before, again noting any word or phrase that strikes me. (It may be the same word as before or a different one.)

Thirdly, I pause and re-read the passage again, allowing God’s Word to sink into my heart through this repetition and reflection.

Fourthly, I take 15 or 20 minutes to ruminate on the word or phrase that struck me most forcefully. Now, St. Augustine compares rumination to what a cow does when she is chewing her cud. She grinds the grass with her teeth over and over again, then swallows it into her first stomach, lets it sit, then regurgitates it and chews it some more. (This is quite earthy, but one gets the picture.)

While ruminating, I may ask if the word or phrase chosen has anything to do with what might be happening in my life. Is there something I should be doing or not doing that this word or phrase is reminding me about? Does the word or phrase inspire some feeling within me? Does it provide a consolation and, if so, why?

Finally, after ruminating, I write down in my journal any of the insights that I have had. These insights form the basis of meditation, seeking how the Lord desires me to incorporate these insights into my life. Meditation moves me to a greater conversion of heart as I seek all the more ardently to do the will of God.  And since the meditation engages the heart, it seeks to be closer in a union of love to God who first loved me.

I have found that lectio divina is a prayer that works well. I believe that is so because the Holy Spirit, who inspired the original Scripture passage, continues to inspire today. If I am truly open to seeking the Spirit, I am confident that He can and will speak to me.

God bless you on your Lenten journey!

Esta Cuaresma, profundice su vida de oración con ‘lectio divina’

Tags: , ,

Category: Only Jesus

Comments are closed.