Praying God's Word
Christ hungers to be in personal relationship with each of us. The best way to really know Jesus is by encountering him in Sacred Scripture. Here are some ideas for how you might open yourself up to God in the Bible.
The Church encourages the prayerful reading of God's Word, especially the ancient way called Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading). The process includes reading a short biblical passage (8-10 lines or so) several times, engaging different prayer and meditation practices each time you read.
Traditionally there are four steps:
- Reading. Read the chosen passage through at least once (ideally two or three times) to let the words and the ideas "soak in."
- Meditating. Engage and savor the chosen passage with your imagination. Enter the text more deeply by "seeing," "hearing," "smelling," "tasting" and "touching" whatever is in the passage. (Gospel stories are a good way to begin.) Is there a word, sentence or image that speaks to you in a special way? Take note of that, and allow yourself to focus on just that word, sentence or image. Take note of what happens inside you as you read the passage more slowly.
- Praying. Respond to what's happening in you as you read the chosen passage. Where is the Holy Spirit doing in your heart and mind and soul? Respond with a few words of thanksgiving, or ask the Holy Spirit whatever is in your heart.
- Contemplating. Let the Holy Spirit move you to encounter Our Lord in the text and beyond the text, directly.
Many people who practice Lectio Divina see a fifth step, implicit in the others:
- Action. At the conclusion of the prayer, invite the Holy Spirit to show you how your prayer might change the way you act, think or speak.
More Resources for Praying with God's Word
We recommend the USCCB website https://catholic.bible, which showcases many different ways ordinary Christians might engage the Bible in liturgy, catechesis, prayer and for ecumenical faith sharing.