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The WORD Part 5: Praying with Scripture

I commonly hear this kind of statement from people I counsel: “I would like to read more Scripture or pray with it more, but I don’t really know where to start or how to do it.” I definitely can relate. Prior to college, I didn’t know how to fruitfully interact with Scripture either. Thankfully, I joined a group of men during college that showed me how to do Lectio Divina (it means ‘Divine Reading’). It is an ancient method of praying with Scripture and to give God the space and time to speak to our lives through his Sacred Word. There are many different guides out there with subtle differences, and all of them (well, most of them) are perfectly acceptable. The following is a guide from the Busted Halo Blog. I like this guide a lot. I I hope it is helpful for you as well.

Fr. Keating describes the four stages of Lectio Divina as compass points around a circle, with the Holy Spirit moving seamlessly between them. As a beginner, I’ve found it helpful to follow the stages in order. Like learning an instrument, once I’ve learned the basics, I’ll be able to improvise! Here’s how to get started:


I’d suggest 30 minutes to read, reflect, and respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in Lectio Divina [Side note from Fr. Peter: 30 minutes is great. 20 minutes is ok too. 15 minutes is acceptable. 10 minutes is probably too little). To tune in, I like to light a candle, not because it’s necessary, but because the flame and fragrance serve as gentle reminders when collecting my thoughts and calming my mind. I pray a prayer of invitation, saying something like, “God, let me hear from you,” and spend a few moments sitting quietly so my mind is open to hearing from God

Lectio (Read)

My first reading is an opportunity to get to know the Scripture passage. I listen carefully for any words or phrases that seem to jump out. It’s important not to force things, but wait patiently for God to give gentle guidance. One day when reading Jeremiah 31, I felt my mind drawn to the strength of God’s commitment to His covenant: “[I will make a new covenant] not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband.” (Jeremiah 31:32 ESV). I was struck by the image of God leading His people by the hand as an act of love – they weren’t left to begin their momentous journey alone.

Meditatio (Reflect)

The second reading of the same passage focuses further on the points I become aware of during the first reading. Often I’ll just re-read a few verses so I can reflect carefully on where God has nudged me. Then I’ll reflect on what I believe God is saying. I try not to analyze the passage. It’s easy to slip into “study mode” and think about interesting points rather than listening to what God might be saying. It helps to ask God to make His focus clear.

Oratio (Respond)

After a third reading, it’s time to respond. I like to record my thoughts by journaling because I know I’m very prone to forgetting what I’ve learned, even by the next day! We can respond in prayer too, which gives us the opportunity for a conversation with God. When reading Jeremiah, I journaled my wonderings. If God is so powerfully committed to keeping His covenant with me, why do I sometimes lack the commitment to stay close to God? Often the events of the day crowd in, and I don’t always make time to listen to God. I prayed that God would help me to prioritize spending time with Him.

Contemplatio (Rest)

After the final reading, I spend around 10 minutes in silent contemplation. This isn’t a time of prayer or meditation — I just sit quietly and allow God to work. When my mind starts to wander and dart here and there, I bring it gently back to stillness again.

It’s important to remember that Lectio Divina is not an end in itself or another spiritual practice to tick off our to-do list. It helps us hear specifically and individually from God through Scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit, and deepens our relationship with Him.


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