On the last night of our vacation on Siesta Key, my husband took our dog, Maeve, with him to watch our grandson and son-in-law fishing. Somehow he was distracted (he loved everything to do with fishing) and didn’t notice that our dog had slipped out of her collar. The next thing he saw was Maeve flying through the air after being hit by a slow moving car.
During a long night of finding an emergency veterinary service and waiting for Maeve to go through exploratory surgery to determine the extent of her injuries, I had some time to reflect on my response to the accident. In the past I would have been extremely angry with my husband, charging him with carelessness, blaming him. Instead I found myself thinking of how terrible this had been for him. He loved the dog as much as I did and was clearly devastated by what had happened, which was, after all, an accident (she had never slipped out of her collar and lead before). We spent the early morning hours consoling each other and praying for a good outcome for Maeve. Fortunately she came through surgery and the vet found no serious internal injuries.
In the days following, on our way home from Florida, I reflected on my response - why was I able to see my husband’s pain and not just my own. In the past I have been a self-righteous, quick to anger person. I realized that what was different was something about me, something that God was helping me with. For the past year or so, I had been praying with scripture daily.
Reading a passage of Scripture slowly, meditatively, is an ancient prayer practice known as Lectio Divina. It is a deceptively simple way of praying that fosters an encounter with God in His Word. Unlike a Bible study, the focus is to listen deeply to the words in a short passage, considering what God is saying to you in your current life. By opening your heart, not just your mind, to the scripture, taking it in as nourishment, you allow God to speak to you and gradually transform you. In the process, you speak to God but only after first listening to Him.
Following this practice on a regular basis draws you closer to Him; over time you will see the fruits of this prayer in your everyday life.
Some good sources to help you begin this prayer practice:
This book provides an easy to read introduction; it also clarifies the difference between meditation and contemplation. The second part of the book cites 500 scriptural references to use in prayer on spiritual themes such as contrition and mercy, forgiveness, God’s call to listen, and God’s promises.
Father Pennington, a Trappist monk, describes how Lectio helps us deepen our friendship with God. The purpose of praying with scripture is to experience the presence of God in His Living Word, really listening to Him and what He has to say to us. He includes a chapter on Lectio in Cyberspace and a chapter about shared Lectio in a group, sharing the experience of each individual.