How to Pray the Scriptures

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.

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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 Mass 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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10 Ways to Make Time for Prayer

clockAs Christian women, we know the importance of making time for prayer. We want to foster our relationship with Jesus and spending time with Him is the only real way to do that. As busy moms, we also know that finding time for prayer can be a challenge. We make excuses. We get caught up in all the details of homeschooling, running our homes and (sometimes) playing chauffeur for our children.

If you want to make prayer a priority but can’t seem to find the time, the trick might be to sneak it in! Here are some tips that have helped me fit prayer into my day:

1. Get up early. Yeah, that can be hard, I know; especially if your young ones are early birds. Until recently, my son would be up between 5:30-6:00am and getting up at 5:00am was HARD. Still, if you can get up even 20 minutes before your children and spend just 15 minutes or so with the Lord in prayer or reading the Bible, you will be amazed at how it can set your day right. You’ll be more focused and prepared for the day and have that extra boost to keep the Lord in your heart during the day.*

2. Make a prayer appointment. We make hair appointments, doctor appointments and all kinds of appointments so why not make a prayer appointment? When you are calendaring your other appointments, blot out a time for prayer each day or at least once a week. If you can leave your child/children with grandparents or mother’s helper for a while even better. Take that time for adoration before our Lord in the Eucharist if your church offers it. **

3. Pray as a family. Praying with your children is an awesome way to not only find time for yourself to pray, but also instill a habit of prayer in your children. It doesn’t have to be long. You can do five minutes of morning devotions before starting school or pray a decade of the rosary after dinner. Let each child take turns leading the prayers each day so that they feel involved.

4. Hide some aspirations around the house. Okay, this might sound silly, but it does help! Write little aspirations (such as “Jesus I trust in You.” or “Sweet Jesus, be my salvation.”) or scripture verses down on sticky notes and post them on the inside of your kitchen cabinets or doors, mirrors or any where around the house where you will see them frequently.

5. Pray while you work. Throw on a rosary DVD while you clean the house or tackle a household project. Or, put on some worship music so you can sing out your prayer to the Lord. (A fun homeschooling project would be to have each kid write his or her own “prayer song” to sing during devotional time.)

6. Exercise. Again, put on some worship music and dance before the Lord! You’ll get in a good workout and pray at the same time. Going for a run or bike ride? Don’t be so quick to put on those headphones. Use that time to pray and chat with our Lord, Our Lady and/or the saints. Lifting weights? Say an aspiration with each repetition.

7. Pray in the car. Going on a long trip? Listen to the Bible on tape for a while. Throw on a DVD of the Divine Mercy Chaplet or worship music while on your way to or from the store, appointments or activities. Dropping the littles off somewhere? Spend a couple of minutes in the car before driving off to your next destination. Picking them up? Get there a few minutes early and sit in silence before the Lord before it’s time to get them.

8. Turn off the TV. Believe me, I know how tempting it can be to plop down in front of the television after a busy day. You want to get off your feet and relax. Why not put off turning the TV on for 30 minutes and work on a bible study or read the Catechism or pray the rosary first? You may change your mind about turning the TV on at all. 🙂

9. Pray in bed. If he’s willing, take a few minutes to pray with your husband before drifting off to sleep. Having trouble getting to sleep? The cadence of the rosary or divine mercy chaplet is very soothing and easily can put your body and spirit to rest.

10. Join (or form) a mom’s prayer group. Getting together with other moms to pray for and support each other in your journey with the Lord can be an awesome blessing. If there isn’t a group already formed, get a few of your mom friends and see if they are interested. Each mom can take turns hosting or meet at a local park (weather permitting). The kids can play while the moms can pray!

BONUS! 11. Head for the restroom. Hey, sometimes you’ve got to get creative! 🙂 If all else fails and you’ve been too busy to even think, head for the restroom for a minute or two (even if you don’t have to “go”). Use that time to re-group and re-center In the Lord.

Obviously you can’t (nor should you, necessarily) do all these all day everyday. What’s important is to take time to strengthen your relationship with the Lord so take it slow and experiment with the different suggestions until you find the ones that work for you.

Do you have any creative ways for incorporating prayer into your every day? Do share! I’d love to find new suggestions for growing in my relationship with the Lord.

*If you are  having difficulty getting up in the morning, you may have to re-think your evenings! Are you going to bed too late? Can you re-arrange things so you can get to bed earlier? Of course, if You are a night person, praying at night instead of the morning will work for you instead. 🙂

**Another idea would be to do a “kid’s swap” with another mom. You take her kids for an hour or two one day a week and she takes your kids on another day of the week. This is a great way to give both moms a break. (Just try not to cheat and run errands or do other things when you could be praying!)

(This post is linked to WFMW and Top 10 Tuesday.)

(Photo Credit: Dennis Hill and Friends)