Way of Prayer? Try Lectio Divina

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 2, 2015

lectio divina path through woods

Way of Prayer? Try Lectio Divina

I have about 17 days until Lent begins, with Ash Wednesday. So—what to do? How should I pray each day, in these last days of the Epiphany season?

I turn to a book that holds one of my preferred ways of looking at the world—the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI). This is a personality type and preference indicator, measuring both the way I view myself and the interior life, and the way I view others and the exterior life. This book is called Prayer and Temperament, by Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey. It does a good job of showing the close connection and preference for different types of prayer, according to the Myers-Briggs preference classifications.

Unfamiliar with the MBTI? Don’t be too concerned. This particular way of praying, called Lectio Divina, is an ancient method. Different types of people prefer different ways of praying. Using the MBTI, the authors try to show how variations in methods of prayer can be more effective with, say, an introverted person who likes to focus on thinking and intellectual pursuits, as opposed to an extrovert who loves to express feelings freely.

Let’s look at Lectio Divina, first. A Benedictine method of prayer, it’s been in existence since at least the fourth or fifth centuries. It has four steps: lectio (reading using the senses), meditatio (thinking/the intellect), oratio (feeling/personalization) and contemplation (quiet listening/ intuition). I’m going to concentrate on Galatians 6:14.

In step one, I am drawn to the phrase “the world has been crucified to me.” With step two, I ruminate about this phrase—even word—from the verse. Focus, and try to pick it apart. Oratio? I try to find how it is applicable to me. Hmm. My understanding is that the world (or, things sinful and not pleasing to God) is supposed to have little effect on me. I must be boastful and prideful in _only_ the cross of Christ, since I put my faith in it. Fourth, I contemplate. The cross separates me from things of this world, things that can separate me from God, and orients me toward Christ. Toward how the seductive world can be just a dream, even a nightmare.

So—I will be following the four simple steps of Lectio Divina for the next two weeks, until Ash Wednesday arrives. With a reminder, the results of the Myers-Briggs test are fascinating, and enlightening. This book shows how these versatile methods in prayer can be best used, no matter what way the mind functions, no matter which type is my preference.

Ready for an indepth look at God’s word? In prayer?

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

2 responses to “Way of Prayer? Try Lectio Divina

  1. Excellent rendition of lectio, Liza. Good job. Hope it draws some to give it a try. All the best for your Lenten season.

  2. Thanks so much, Dave. I wanted to give an overview for those who are less familiar with lectio. Personally, I love it! Even though I’ve been tending toward Benedictine rumination for the past number of months . . . that is one reason I am challenging myself with this way of praying in A Year of Everyday Prayers. As I try to choose a different prayer emphasis and method of prayer in each month, I will stretch myself spiritually. Hopefully, it will make an interesting spiritual journey in prayer, by the end of 2015.

    God’s blessings on you as you walk this Lenten journey.

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