Back to Basics: How to do Lectio Divina (Pray Scripture)

Praying the scriptures is an integral part of a Christian’s life. How can someone get to know Jesus and the heart of God without reading His Word? And, although it seems like a “well-kept secret” for us Catholics, praying the Scriptures (Lectio Divina) is a long-time tradition within the Catholic Church. In fact, reading/praying the bible wasn’t just for priests or religious, but for the laity as well.

There are many books on Lectio Divina, but the simplest instructions I found is on the Plain Catholic site (used with permission – italics are my insertions):

How to do Lectio Divina

1. “Take up the Bible in your quiet prayer place. Say a simple prayer such as the opening lines to the Liturgy of the Hours: “God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. Glory be…” or “Lord open my ears and steady my heart to hear Your Word,” (I like to pray the ‘Come Holy Spirit’ prayer).

2. Open the Bible to the Gospel readings for the day (or other scripture verses that speak to your heart). Slowly and prayerfully read the passages. Imagine yourself listening to Christ Himself, just as Mary did at His feet.

3. Sit with the Scripture you have just read, listening with the ear of your heart (As St. Benedict called it in he Prologue of the Rule). Do not rush it. Simply move through it gently.

4. At the end of the prayer time, thank Jesus and offer praises to the Holy Trinity; offer up your day to Him. (I pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be…)
Notes:

The average time for Lectio Divina is 20 minutes (you don’t have to use a timer unless you want/need to). Some days it will take 10 minutes. Other days it will take longer. Give what you can to the Lord and be at peace about it.

When you first begin Lectio Divina, stick with the gospels. They are easier to start with because it will feel more natural to “sit with Jesus’ words and listen to them”. Eventually, you will find the Psalms, Proverbs, and all the New Testament as fertile ground for Lectio Divina.

If you are having difficulty during your prayer time, try to remember that there is no such thing as “wasted prayer time.” If you get distracted, simply offer Jesus that distraction. Do not force yourself into trying to conform what you think they prayer time should look like. Most importantly, do NOT let yourself give into discouragement: instead, do the best you can and give the rest to God.

Listen to the Advice of St. Benedict:

‘LISTEN carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory’

Therefore, if you don’t already spend a part of your day with the Lord, reading the Bible and praying over God’s Word, I highly encourage you to do so. Even if you can only find 5 minutes to read the Bible, and pray the Scriptures, I promise you, the time will be well worth it.

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EDT and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT. I hope you will join me! In tomorrow’s FB live, I will be expounding on this topic and giving more detail on the purpose of Lectio Divina and how to get the most of your time out of praying the scriptures.

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Mercy Bible Study: Session 6 Reflection

Whew! We made it to the end of the bible study, only this last chapter to go! How was it for ya? I hope you were as enlightened and as challenged I was!

Mercy Bible Study: Session 6 Reflection

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The crux of this session is the mandate to be merciful if we expect God to have mercy on us. To illustrate his point, Father Pacwa expounds a bit about the parable of the “Good Samaritan” and the parable of “Lazarus and the Rich Man.” He shows the reader that in both cases, it is how we treat others and how we extend mercy toward them has a direct relation to the mercy we will receive.

In fact, in the discussion questions, Father pointedly asks, “Whom in your life do you need to extend mercy and forgiveness toward? Remember the words of the Our Father: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.'”

This question strikes a chord in my heart. Recently, a reader bravely shared with me her struggle with anger and bitterness. Oh, that is such a struggle I can relate with! Long-time readers may know that I was born with mild cerebral palsy. I was bullied while growing up and had other things happen that left me wounded. Because of these things, I struggled a long time with forgiveness and mercy. I won’t go as far as to say that I wished ill on those persons but offering forgiveness seemed impossible.

Through the grace of God, and help from some wonderful people, I have been able to heal in many ways and have been able to forgive those who have hurt me. However, it is not an easy process. It takes time. It takes work and it takes patience and it takes the willingness to want to move past the anger and bitterness and turn toward mercy and forgiveness. I have had to forgive and re-forgive. I have had to accept where I am and sometimes just say, “Lord, I want to forgive. I can’t forgive right now but I want to want to forgive. Help me.”

And, guess what? I still have to forgive. I (and you) will be hurt throughout our lives. We will always have people to forgive and we will always need forgiveness for the hurt (knowingly or unknowingly) we have caused others.

Therefore, I ask Father Mitch’s question again: Whom in your life do you need to extend mercy and forgiveness toward? What steps can you take now to begin the healing process in your life? I encourage you deeply consider these questions. Know that I pray for you daily! May God bless you and bring you ever closer to His Sacred Heart.

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Mercy Bible Study: Session 6 Readings

Almost there! We are finally entering session 6 which is the last session in the book. This book/bible study has been so enriching, challenging and stretching for me and I hope it was to you. 🙂

Mercy Bible Study: Session 6 Readings

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This chapter is small, especially in comparison to some of the other chapters. The pages we are reading for July in chapter six are 109-118.

The bible readings are

Daniel 4:19-37

Sirach 1:12

Sirach 1:18

Sirach 1:14

Psalm 111:10

Proverb 1:7

Sirach 2:7, 10-11

Luke 6:36

Sirach 28:4-6

Matthew 5:7

Matthew 23:13-36

Luke 10:25-37

Luke 16:19-31

As always, don’t worry too much about reading every reading. You can also “group read” some of the readings such as reading all the verses from Sirach, all the verses from Luke, etc.

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Mercy Bible Study: Session 5 Reflection

Session five was another long chapter that gave us a lot to think about, didn’t it? And I have to confess, I took my own advice and didn’t finish reading through all the scripture readings. Most of them were related and I was able to get the gist of what Father Pacwa was trying to get across to his readers. Here are my thoughts.

Mercy Bible Study: Session 5 Reflection

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I decided to focus on question two from the discussion questions at the back of the chapter. The question is “Think of the people who were angry at Jesus for having driven out a demon and causing a herd of pigs to be killed. have you ever found yourself feeling like someone didn’t deserve God’s mercy? What about a murderer who repents at the last minute” (pg 107)? This discussion question is the type that goes right for the heart!

The first example of Jesus driving out a demon comes from Matthew 17:14-18 when Jesus heals the boy with epileptic seizures. The second examples comes from Mark 5:1-20 when Jesus casts out the demon named “Legion” and into the pigs. In both cases, the reactions are different than one would expect. With the boy, Jesus is criticized, and with the pigs, the people are frightened. In both cases, they don’t think the persons Jesus healed were worthy.

And the end question really hits home, sadly. I have felt at times that someone didn’t deserve God’s mercy but it isn’t the “murderer who repents at the last minute.” That person is “out there” and it isn’t hard to imagine God having mercy on him/her. It is the person that has hurt me personally that I sometimes have difficulty wishing for God’s mercy on him/her. How about you?

During much of my school years I was bullied. I have cerebral palsy that affected the way I walked, I was quiet and shy, and it was hard for me to fit in with other kids. During my high school years, there were times when I was picked on (especially by one person in particular) and I can guarantee you that I did not wish mercy for that person (from God or anyone else!). I have since forgiven everyone who has bullied me and have moved on; however, in the past, I probably would have criticized Jesus myself if He had mercy on that person!

Even as an adult, when I am wronged – be it real or imagined – I struggle with not having negative, almost revengeful thoughts. Is it pride? Probably. I know in my heart we are to love everyone even our “enemies.” But, as humans, it can be difficult to look past the hurt and see that person as God sees that person. And, therein lies the challenge, right?! Or, am I the only one who struggles with this?

Jesus has given us the commandment and the example to love others and to have mercy on them, as He does. Just because the task is difficult doesn’t mean we are off the hook. He says, “the measure that we measure with will be measured back to us” (see Luke 6:38) and that can be a sobering thought if we (I am) are not measuring with mercy.

Like I wrote, there is a lot to think about in this chapter! What about you? What struck you or challenged you in this session? Do share in the comments.

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Tweetable: Mercy Bible Study: Session 5 Reflection

Mercy Bible Study: Session 5 Readings

We are heading into session five and we are almost done with the book. After this session there will only be one left!

Mercy Bible Readings: Session 5 Readings

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This month we will be reflecting on pages 91-107 and the following scripture verses:

Luke 1:39-55

Nehemiah 1:11

Tobit 14:6-7

Judith 16:15

Psalm 103:8-17

Psalm 119:73-75

Sirach 2:7-18

Jeremiah 42:11-17

Habakkuk 3:2

Luke 1:57-59

Psalm 23

Luke 17:12-19

Matthew 9:27-31

Matthew 20:29-34

Matthew 15:21-28

Matthew 17:14-18

Mark 9:14-29

Mark 5:1-20

Philippians 2:25-27

As always, take your time and don’t worry about finishing all the verses. It is better to go deeper with a few verses than to rush through them.

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Mercy Bible Study: Session 4 Reflection

Did you make it through all the readings for this session. There were a lot, right?! I many of the readings but I wasn’t able to finish them all. It was okay because, as you may have noticed, it was easy to get the gist of the themes.

Mercy Bible Study: Session 4 Reflection

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I have to be honest and admit that this session was a little dry and difficult to get through. However, my biggest takeaway from this session was the reminder of God’s faithfulness. Father Pacwa writes:

“In fact, the reason he shows the people mercy is because he remains faithful to the covenantal relationship, even when they become unfaithful” (75).

No matter what we have done or do, God remains faithful. So often, we turn away from God and sin. We live as if He doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. Still, His love is constant and continual. He gently tries to get our attention and showers us with graces but they often go unrecognized.

Thankfully, He is always ready to take us back the second we turn to Him. This is a sign of His great mercy. There may be consequences for our actions but God does not punish or turn away from us. He accepts and loves us just as we are, with all our faults and foibles. God remains steadfast and faithful and we can put our trust in that!

What is your biggest takeaway from the lesson? Did you find it dry and difficult to work through? Why or why not?

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Tweetable: Mercy Bible Reflection: Session 4 Reflection

Mercy Bible Study: Session 4 Readings

Well, with all the drama of April, I wasn’t able to get my reflection for April written. I am happy that I was able to pray through the bible study on my own but I didn’t have any computer time the last couple of weeks. However, since this is the year of mercy, and the bible study is on mercy, I am going to have mercy on myself and let April go. 🙂

Mercy Bible Study: Session 4 Readings

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Session 4 is rather long, pages 69-90, and the scripture verses are as follows:

Exodus 20:1-17

Exodus 25:10-26:37

Deuteronomy 27:1-10

Exodus 21-23; 34

Deuteronomy 12-26

Deuteronomy 27-28

Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Joshua 8:34-35

2 Kings 23:1-3

Nehemiah 8

Genesis 9

Genesis 12:1-3

Genesis 15:1-19

2 Samuel 7

Exodus 19:5-6

Exodus 23:22-23

Leviticus 26

Numbers 14: 6-9

Deuteronomy 8:19-20

Deuteronomy 11:13-32

Exodus 33:19

Hosea 2:16-20

Jeremiah 33:25-26

Isaiah 63:7-64:11

Daniel 9:1-19

Sirach 16:24-18:14

There are A LOT of readings for this session and many of the readings themselves are also long; however, as always, read what you can. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of reading. If you don’t get it all done, no big deal!

To make it easier, so you don’t have to keep coming back to this web page or looking into the book, here is a printable list of the readings (no opt-in required).

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Mercy Bible Study: Lesson 3 Readings

Mercy Bible Study: Session 3 Readings

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We are now moving on to lesson three of the bible study. Here are the readings for this month:

Hosea 14:1-9

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Jeremiah 31:20-33

Ezekiel 39:25, 37:1-27

Zechariah 1:12-17

Jeremiah 25:11, 29:10-14

Isaiah 60:1-22

Judith 13:14-18

Judith 16:1-17

Exodus 15:20-21

Judges 5

1 Samuel 18:7-8

Wisdom 11:1-10

Proverbs 19:18

John 15:1-2

Hebrews 12:7-11

Wisdom 16:1-10

Numbers 21:4-9

John 3:14-17

Wisdom 12:1-22

Genesis 15:16

Leviticus 18:24-30

Deuteronomy 9:1-5

Deuteronomy 12:29-31

Deuteronomy 18:9-12

Wisdom 12:12-21

Again, don’t go crazy here. Read as many of the scriptures that you can but don’t stress if you don’t get them all read. It is better to spend more time reflecting on less verses than it is to rush through all of them. Besides, as you may notices, some of the scriptures overlap and several of them are grouped according the topic.

As usual, I will offer my thoughts and reflections toward the end of the month.

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Mercy Bible Study: Session 2 Readings

Happy leap day! Gotta love February 29th. 🙂 Anyhow, to recap on the mercy bible study: in January we focused on the introduction, in February, for session one, we focused on human mercy and its correlation to forgiveness, and now we are heading into session two.

Mercy Bible Study Session 2 Readings

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For March, we will read pages 33-45 which will lead us in praying and learning about what it means to withhold and grant mercy. These are the scripture verses to pray over this month:

Joshua 11:1-20

Wisdom 11:1-10

Isaiah 13-23

Jeremiah 1-6

Isaiah 47:7-11

Jeremiah 42:1-10

Nehemiah 1:1-2:8

Remember, don’t try to do all the readings at once. There are 31 days in March so take your time! It is better to go deeper into a few of the scriptures than to rush through all of them. 🙂 If you can, take notes. I can’t wait to see what session 2 has in store for us.

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Mercy Bible Study: Session 1 Reflection

How did you make out with the readings? Interesting, right?! This is going to be a great study!

Mercy Bible Study Session 1 Reflection

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In Session One, Fr. Mitch focuses on “human mercy” and broke each section down loosely based on three types of mercy: Wicked people whose mercy is really cruelty or merciless, so-called religious people whose mercy is selective (they will not forgive the “great sinners”), and the fact that people do not stay faithful to their commitment to principles, thus showing that God’s mercy is far greater than human mercy.

In writing about the wicked people who do not show mercy, Father points out the interconnection between mercy and forgiveness. You can not have one without the other. He uses scripture, especially Matthew 6:12-15. Father reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Forgive the wrongs done to you by a neighbor and your sins will be forgiven” (Pacwa, 22).

Next, Father Mitch goes on to relate healing with mercy and then finally he writes about how God’s mercy is infinitely more real and superior to human mercy. However, for this reflection, I want to focus on the aspect of forgiveness because it is something we (I) struggle with.

At the end of the chapter, one of the discussion questions is “What is the relationship of forgiveness to mercy? (pg 30)? Of course, when we read the chapter, we learn that the relationship between the two is everything. You can not have forgiveness without mercy and you can not have mercy without forgiveness. (Tweet This)

And yet, forgiveness can be SO HARD. When people hurt us (especially when we think the person hurt us on purpose), the last thing we think about is forgiving them. At least, not I! I grumble, nurse my wounds, and sometimes even wish revenge on the person. And yet, Jesus commands us to forgive, to show mercy. If we wish gain forgiveness we most offer forgiveness.

I guess, for some of us, our pride blinds us to the fact that we are sinners, too. We hurt people, either knowingly or unknowingly. We are in no position to judge or hold back forgiveness from others. Thus, is our mission in this year of mercy.

This chapter has challenged me. It has pushed me to remember my failings and to be more compassionate and merciful to those who most need it. What about you? What are your thoughts about the correlation between forgiveness and mercy? Was there something else in the chapter that struck a chord with you? Do share!

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You can’t have mercy without forgiveness or forgiveness without mercy