Walking Our Faith: A conversation starter with God (column)
January 28, 2017
I crave a closer relationship with God, a deeper spiritual intimacy. I want a prayer life that feels like a conversation.
I am pursuing a deeper connection with God. I've discovered God's word is essential to closeness with God and I've missed so much because I don't know enough about my Catholic faith.
I want to take God up on his promise that if I seek him with all my heart, I will find him.
Recently I discovered the "Lectio Divina Journal." When it arrived and I began using it, I thought it was a clever way to study the Bible. Monday through Friday there is a brief Bible reading from one of the Gospels, Psalms, Proverbs, Old Testament or Epistles. And then you are encouraged to respond to the reading in a series of four prompts.
Using tools like those found on Formed.org and in the Lectio Divina Journal we grow closer to God as we deepen our knowledge and understanding of our faith.
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Then, I discovered "Lectio: Prayer," a six-part video series on Formed.org, and found that Lectio Divina (aka Sacred Reading) is actually a contemplative form of prayer, centuries old, developed as a means to allow us to read the Bible and experience it as the living word of God, a conversation with God.
The Lectio Divina method of prayer consists of four steps, easy, quick, yet incredibly profound in their results.
In the short time that I've made it a part of each morning's devotions, both my Bible reading and prayer time with God have become exponentially enriched and I am beginning to see this time as truly a conversation with God.
I will outline the four steps of Lectio Divina here, but I strongly encourage you to go to the Formed.org site and watch the Lectio: Prayer series by Dr. Tim Gray for more comprehensive guidance.
Here are the Four Steps of the Lectio Divina:
Silencio – Silence. Quiet your thoughts and allow yourself to enjoy the silence, as you prepare to read the word of God.
Lectio – Read the scripture three times, slowly and out loud. Why? Reading out loud slows down our natural inclination to breeze through the Scripture. In the second and often third reading, insights that I completely missed in my first reading will finally become clear.
Meditatio – Meditate on what you've read. But this is an active meditation. Circle verbs and nouns with an eye for patterns and metaphors that provide a deeper meaning to God's word. Just as Jesus often used parables to teach an important lesson, the Psalms often use beautiful imagery to convey an important message.
Oratio – Conversation with God. Now we turn to God, not only with our own thoughts but with an insight into God's thoughts and wisdom. Our one-sided thoughts can now become a two-sided conversation where we experience God's guidance, consolation and grace.
Contemplatio – "Be still and know that I am God." Here we take a moment to rest in God's presence and experience the love and insights we have gained from reading and prayer.
Dr. Tim Gray added this fifth step:
Actio – Putting our faith into action. After we draw close to God, we feel compelled to share God's compassion with others in our community. These are small gifts that we do daily, giving attention to those otherwise ignored. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta encouraged, let us be inspired daily to do 'small things with great love.'
As we walk our faith, God invites us on a journey that leads us from ourselves to him. To make this journey we must expect to grow from spiritual children into adults. Our relationship with God will grow to be as nuanced and different as a child's relationship grows into an adult's.
Using tools like those found on Formed.org and in the Lectio Divina Journal we grow closer to God as we deepen our knowledge and understanding of our faith. We discover God is drawing us into a living, vibrant relationship with him that will never end.
Joining Formed is free, thanks to the Summit County Parish. The site is full of entertaining and informative programs, movies, e-books and audiobooks. Your faith will grow as you enjoy this innovative media platform.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson is the author of "A Map of Heaven" and other books. You can reach her via email at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or online at facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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