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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lectio Divina - Contemplative Prayer

I have studied prayer extensively. As an individual who believes so strongly in the power of prayer, I have sought many ways to pray and have taught courses on The Lord's Prayer and written several articles on prayer.

Lectio Divina is a type of contemplative prayer and I have been practicing this type of prayer for the past couple of weeks using The Lord's Prayer. I pray first thing in the morning while my coffee is brewing. Often I grab my first cup and continue, depending upon how I have progressed up to that point.

I simply repeat the prayer over and over until no other thoughts enter my mind. It may sound easy, but you'd be surprised how random thoughts creep in and distract from the recitation. I don't stop until I make it through several times without distraction.

It's not a mindless repetition, but rather an intentional, focused repetition intended to focus one's mind and heart and soul on a particular word, phrase, or in my case a prayer. Since the Lord's Prayer is meaningful and powerful to me, I have used it as my focus point. I think perhaps this practice in the mornings is why yesterday I felt so connected to God--when I said my heart ached for Him.

I have noticed I am more settled and focused in my life as well--not just in the big picture, but in the day-to-day as well. I have more patience generally and when I feel myself getting overwhelmed or 'agitated' I simply take a breath and take myself back to my morning prayer time.

I extracted the following information directly from the website of the Sisters of St. Clare. This is a group of beautiful prayer warriors whose entire lives are dedicated to prayer. For information about them, and detailed information about lectio divina this is a great site to visit.

Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to God, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

ONCE WE have found a word or a passage in the Scriptures which speaks to us in a personal way, we must take it in and "ruminate" on it. Through meditation we allow God's word to become His word for us, a word that touches us and affects us at our deepest levels.

THE THIRD step in lectio divina is prayer: prayer understood both as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with the One who has invited us into an embrace; and as consecration, prayer as the priestly offering to God of those parts of ourselves
that we have not previously believed God wants.

FINALLY, WE simply rest in the presence of the One who has used the Scripture word as a means of inviting us to accept a transforming embrace.

1 comment:

Cristine said...

Hi Mary, Your post encouraged me to try this more often... I've prayed like this while fasting and it was very powerful. I've never really tried it daily, though. The Lord's Prayer is very meaningful to me to, so I'll be starting with that. Great post.

God Bless you,