Wednesday, April 18, 2007

lectio divina prayer

Yesterday at Faith we had a very meaningful pastoral staff meeting. We practiced an ancient spiritual discipline known as Lectio Divina (Latin for "Sacred Reading"). It's what Christians commonly refer to as "Praying the Scriptures".

The principles for this were detailed by an early church father, Origen in 220 AD. It is simply the act of prayerfully meditating on a passage of Scripture and then internalizing it as you make it the prayer of your heart to God.

Instead of just reading (Psalm 139) "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me int he way everlasting" would first read it and then meditate on the deeper meaning. How does it apply to your life? And then slowly and intentionally prayer those words back to God. Ask him to do what the Scripture is saying. Allow the words of Scripture to become your words.

Sometimes we fear what Jesus called "vein repetition". And in an attempt to be spontaneous and expository in our prayers, we often become unfocused and lack depth. Perhaps I'm not the only one who sits down to pray, soon to find my mind wandering off into the various distractions of the day.

Or maybe you find yourself praying to "Father Weejus". How many times do we pray a series of cliches. "Father weejus thank you for this meal. Weejus thank you for the hands that prepared it. Weejus ask that you be here and bless all the little children of the world."

I think in our attempt to avoid "vein repition" we end up doing the very thing Jesus was warning against: mindless prayers.

For the staff prayer time we each spent 50 minutes of solitude praying through the first five paragraphs of St. Augustine's Confessions. Here's a link. Written in 398 AD, these prayers contain a level of depth that my own prayers often lack. We found it incredibly meaningful as our hearts were refreshed by quality time with God.

Set aside some time this week to pray with some sacred texts. It might just revitalize your relationship with God.