Tag Archives: lectio divina

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Prayer—for Bella

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

heal my child - pray

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Prayer—for Bella

Our lives get interrupted at the worst moments. Sometimes inconvenient, sometimes exciting. Once in a while, horrible. Gut-wrenching, and incredibly sad.

I am interrupted in the middle of my neatly-laid-out prayer plan on lectio divina . . . to pray for Bella, instead. To ask you whether you would consider praying for Bella, her parents, and the medical staff who will be caring for her. Tomorrow, on Wednesday morning, Bella will be having surgery on a brain tumor. She just turned nine years old this past weekend. She is scared of the surgery. Her parents are scared, too.

The office manager at my church, Sunny, is good friends with Bella’s parents. Sunny has kept our church updated on the continuing situation with Bella, the doctors, and other medical stuff. I cannot even imagine what Bella and her family are feeling and are going through tonight, with surgery in less than twelve hours. Plus, Sunny just set up a GoFundMe site for Bella. You can find it at http://www.gofundme.com/4BellaM

Yes, I was a hospital chaplain for most of the last ten years. And, yes, I have some rudimentary understanding of what kinds of things Bella and her parents will be dealing with. But—I can’t know, for sure. But what I can do is send positive thoughts, earnest prayers, and good feelings. And, I can pray God’s mercy, care and comfort upon such a sweet young person.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, we pray for Bella. We ask Your presence with her as she goes through this procedure. We pray that You will hold her in the hollow of Your hand, being present with her in a very special way. We ask for Bella’s parents, and for all who care for her and love her. We know You can comfort like no other. We pray for the medical staff who will be caring for Bella. Give them wisdom and understanding as they treat Bella. We know that You are a God of healing, a God of wonder-working, and a God of comfort and encouragement. Thank You, Lord! We hold up all these things in prayer, Amen.

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.

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.

How Ought I Pray?

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God create in me a clean heart

How Ought I Pray?

Prayer is amazing. Truly! But, not for everyone. That is, not in everyone’s experience.

There are as many different kinds/manners/methods of prayer as there are people involved praying. Each of us is an individual, and each of us has a unique way of coming before God.

A woman I very much admire uses centering prayer regularly. She chooses one single word, and then goes deep. Meditates and prays using that word, for twenty minutes, a half hour at a time. She has kids, who are getting bigger and older now, but that she is able to use centering prayer on a regular basis—with kids around!—is even more astounding to me!)

I have done centering prayer on occasion, too. (My word is often “Emmanuel,” since I am repeatedly amazed at how Jesus comes alongside of us—of me. Emmanuel, God with us.) Although, I have sometimes used other words, like “peace” or “grace,” or “Jesus.” Whatever you choose, it can be a remarkable, quiet, reflective way to pray.

Personally, I really gravitate towards using Scripture to assist me in my prayer time. But that’s me. I enjoy lectio divina and Benedictine rumination. I even use a Bible concordance on occasion, and research the Greek and Hebrew roots, or verbs, or meanings of these various words used in Scripture. And then, I can pray through those words or understandings.

But, on occasion—I find I do not even have words. I cannot frame my yearnings, the deepest wishes or cries of my heart, in intelligible language. It is then that I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit, for coming alongside of me. As a Paraclete, an Advocate. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit is there to intercede for us, right beside us. The blessed Holy Spirit even groans for us, and with us, and is our interpreter. The Spirit brings those requests and cries, too deep for words, before the heavenly Throne Room.

Thank God there is someone who can help me communicate. I have difficulty even communicating, much less with specific situations, events, opportunities and people!

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, sweet Holy Spirit, thank You for helping us with our prayers. Sometimes my words come out all crooked, or misshapen. Or, they can be mean and evil towards people I am called to love. Forgive me for my shortcomings. Help me—help us to draw closer to You In prayer, and in every other way. In Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

God Has a Purpose

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 18, 2014

ocean sunset

ocean sunset

God Has A Purpose

I did a good deal of computer work and read several blogs online today, since it was my day off. Including one blog I’ve been following for a number of weeks. The narrative the author of the blog talked about was from the Book of Judges, from the Hebrew Scriptures. The contents of the blog post struck me so strongly today, I decided to meditate and pray with that passage, Judges 6, the story of Gideon. Specifically, verses 11 and 12.

I’ve known various manners of prayer for years. Moreover, I was instructed in spiritual formation and prayer practices when I went to seminary. Very helpful, and deepening to my spiritual understanding! But over the past two years, I’ve regularly been praying and meditating using a basic plan of holy reading, lectio divina. There are a number of good instructional books out there, giving some guidelines on holy reading. However, the book I’ve been using (on and off) is by Rev. Martin Smith, a skilled spiritual director and now a retired Episcopal priest. His book The Word Is Very Near You is subtitled A Guide to Praying with Scripture. He gives these guidelines for lectio divina in Chapter 8.

He suggests “1. Spend a few minutes settling down and pray that your heart may be opened and receptive to the gift God knows you need today. . . . 2. Begin reading at the place you have previously chosen, and read on very slowly indeed with an open mind. . . . 3. When a particular sentence or phrase or single word “lights up” or “rings a bell,” put the Bible down. Resist the temptation to go on. . . . 4. Gently repeat this phrase or word again and again within the heart . . . Gradually allow yourself to be absorbed in the word. . . . 5. Express to God in the simplest way the impression the words have made on you. . . . put into words the longings or needs they have brought up. . . . Your prayer may move into contemplation.”

Thus, with some variation, I have often prayed since I read these simple instructions.

Today I was particularly struck by this passage from Judges, so I practiced holy reading with chapter 6, verses 11 and 12. God communicated to me that I have been called and chosen, just as Gideon was called and chosen. Gideon had a problem with low self-esteem, certainly. I have that difficulty, too. Gideon was the youngest in his family—same, here. (I can relate to Gideon, in several significant ways. I, too, need regular fleeces, confirming the way in which I am to go.) But the words that hit me right between the eyes today were those of the Angel of the Lord: “mighty warrior.” The Angel named Gideon by what God knew he was, who he really was. This is particularly important, because it is not what Gideon thought of himself, which was a flawed and incorrect perception.

I get downhearted and depressed by life, and how things can be rocky sometimes. Even often. What I think of myself is often a flawed and incorrect perception of myself. But these words give me hope. God has named me “beloved child” and “God’s masterpiece.” Who am I to think that I am less than that? Thanks for the two thumbs up, God! It’s awfully heartening. Loving, too!

Let’s pray. Dear God, You named Gideon “mighty warrior” because You saw him as You intended him to be. Forgive us for viewing ourselves incorrectly, through a blurry window pane or dark mirror. Thank You for Your clear sight, seeing me as You made me, not in the flawed way I see myself. Help us to see ourselves in the heartening, loving way You perceive us. As Your beloved children, as Your masterpiece! Thank You, thank You, God.  

@chaplaineliza