Have you ever felt connected to God in prayer or do you feel like you are talking to yourself? Do you wish you knew how to transform your prayer into a 2-way conversation? How can something so vital to the Faith be so elusive? I attended an amazing Lectio series with Augustine Institute's Dr. Tim Gray as he dives deep into 5 steps to develop an effective way to study, pray, & nurture a relationship with God in your daily life through His Word. I often find myself praying for success in my business, but after this series I'm more interested in fulfilling God's will through my business. So, I was eager to learn how to build a strong relationship with God.
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What is the best way to pray?
Lectio divina is an ancient practice of enhancing one’s prayer life through the power of God’s Word. The term itself means “divine reading” of the Sacred Scriptures. It is the hope that by using these simple steps each day as you study Sacred Scripture, you will develop an effective way to study and pray with God’s Word and hear God’s voice in your daily life.
The challenges we may have with prayer is that we don't know how to pray as we ought, we view prayer as an disengaged obligation, and we seek to just check it off as done. The ordinary way God speaks to anyone, including the saints, is through scripture.God may speak to man extraordinarily methods at times but primarily when you pray God speaks to you in his living and active word. "The word became flesh and dwelled among us" -John 1:14
Guigo the Carthusian, a 12th century monk, was the first to explain how prayer is an invitation from God to join in conversation with Him. He seeks you first. The best example of this truth is found in John chapter 4.Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well and initiates the conversation first by saying "give me a drink". In prayer, we should take the position of first listening and receiving in his word. In fact, If prayer is like a ladder the first step is reading the word of God, the second step is to mediate on the word, the third step is conversation, and the fourth step is contemplation. Dr. Gray adds a critical fifth step of resolution or putting into action the previous four steps. Guigo and Dr. Gray believe that prayer may be difficult for you because you are trying to jump to the top of the ladder instead of taking it a step at a time.
"Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation" -Catechism of the Catholic Church 2654
The 5 necessary steps to Lectio Divina
- Step 1: Reading of the Sacred Scriptures (Lectio): Read and reread a Scripture passage, paying close attention to words, details, themes, and patterns that speak to you.
- Step 2: Meditation (Meditatio): Meditate or reflect on what you’ve read to gain understanding. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you spend time pondering what you have read and striving to understand it in meditation.
- Step 3: Prayer (Oratio): Bring your meditative thoughts to God in prayer. Speak with God about how the connections and implications of your meditation on the Scripture affect your life and the lives of those around you.
- Step 4: Contemplation (Contemplatio): Take a time of quiet and rest to listen and await God’s voice. Contemplation allows one to enter decisively and more deeply into the Mystery of God – this is no small endeavor, so be patient as you engage this step and strive to be receptive to God’s voice speaking into your life.
- Step 5: Resolution (Resolutio): Create a resolution or action, inviting you to respond to God and the things you have read in Scripture and prayed about.
Climbing the first rungs (Lectio & Meditatio)
The Lectio Divina (ladder method) is like training wheels, once you master it you may adjust the fundamentals. The result of prayer is an encounter with God, go where that encounter takes you. The first two rungs are simple but can be easily overlooked. Find a short piece of scripture, if you are not sure where try either Psalms or one of the Gospels. Read and reread it very slowly and carefully and look for the key words and nouns. Mediate and notice the pattern of the verbs and on what it all means. These first two steps will lead you into a conversation with God
Conversation with God (Oratio)
Oratio is generally translated "prayer" but it doesn't fulling describe all of prayer so a better word would be "converse" or conversation. The important thing to remember about prayer is that it is a response to God calling to us. It is not about our posture or petitions. Consider the scripture you read is God speaking directly to you. He may be speaking to you about something on your mind or he may be trying to speak to you about something you haven't considered. Two things that often holds us back from conversing with God is trying to start on the wrong rung of the ladder and when we know we are out of God's will. Similarly to a friend who you perceived to have wronged you, it is hard to converse while that disruption exist. People who struggle with faith are often in rebellion with God in at least one area of their life. Even the smallest of worldly attachments. The prayer that Jesus gives us is the "Our Father" is to pray for God's will to be done. In Matthew's gospel the Our father is proceeded by alms giving and followed up by fasting. If we want a intimate relationship with God it has to be marked with a life of generous to others and sacrifice of self then we become friends with God because God is love.
The Gaze of Love (Contemplatio)
The hardest to describe and may be the hardest to come to. The primary way to describe Contemplatio is by showing, not explaining, through tasting or seeing. Compilation is the fruit of a deep and meaningful relationship; not about what we say or do. It is a gift from God. We wait for God's gift but we create the conditions; like a boat with a sail waiting for the wind. Even the absence of God is an experience of God. It is difficult because we feel unworthy of God's and want to be doing something. But after setting the stage for God's presence all there is to do is to accept God. Once we have that encounter with God it will make us want to go out and do something but we shouldn't begin with acts of works.
Putting Love into Action (Resolutio)
The fifth step, created by Tim Gray, is resolution into action. It is dangerous to meditate about something without putting it into practice because it affects your reality. Have you ever mediated on being positive, and it worked for a while but eventually went away. It is probably because you didn't put it into practice in your daily life. Your resolutions should be practical, particular, small and simple. Although you should aim to honor your resolutions, the goal of prayer is to deepen your relationship with God.
"You can't go to a vineyard and expect a bottle of wine, you will find grapes that which put through the process will become the wine you seek." - Dr. Tim Gray
Though prayer is one of the essentials of a thriving faith, we often feel as if we're talking to ourselves—or, worse, as if we're talking to no one at all. If you are a Christian like I am, I'm sure you have prayed for the success of your business. I loved learning about Lectio Divina in order to stop develop a real relationship with God. The Lectio Divina approach of Reading, Reflecting, Responding, Contemplating, and taking action in union with God is a far better method than begging in vain for what I what. Dr. Gray shows how the solution to the problem of prayer can be found in the Scriptures first before climbing the ladder to a intimate relationship with God. He teaches us how to enjoy the fruits of an intimate conversation with Our Lord. As a result of completing this series, I adjusted my business and its goals to be a tool God can use for his will and not just a tool to get what I want.
Has your prayer been fruitful? Did you fully understand the information presented? Is there something I left out? Who do you consult on your relationship with God? If you have any question, comments, or concerns I encourage you to comment below or send me a message at email@example.com. I hope to hear from you soon!
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- Gray, Tim. “Lectio: Prayer with Dr. Tim Gray.” FORMED, Augustine Institute, https://watch.formed.org/lectio-prayer-with-dr-tim-gray.