Posts Tagged ‘devotions’

As I delve into my new passion for contemplative prayer and spend more time in silence, I have worked with groups and individuals in a variety these practices. It’s time I share what I know and perhaps a little about my experiences.

First up is Lectio Divina. That sounds so very Latin (because it is) and out of step with today’s worship world. In truth, what’s old is new. Our world continues to harry us. Our schedules become more and more packed with “things to do, places to go, people to see.” This particular practice helps us to SLOW DOWN.

The practice itself is divided into four parts, each of which have a very impressive sounding Latin name.

  1. Lectio – the reading part. This is where the sacred text, poem, or whatever has been selected is slowly read for meaning. As you read, preferably out loud, prayerfully consider what word or phrase is capturing your attention. Today, the reading was from Luke 16:19-31, a rather lengthy passage (I believe shorter passages work better). From this passage, two words captured my attention: dogs and chasm. At first blush, you see, it’s hard to even imagine how or why these two words were spotlighted, but that’s OK because we are just “reading” allowing God to highlight whatever.
  2. Meditatio – the meditative part. Upon reading the selection a second time, this is where we allow our minds to really chew on the word(s) that God brought to our attention the first time through. If I am doing this practice with someone online, let’s say, I will pause the app in order to really think about the words and ask what God is communicating to me, or inviting me to understand, or challenging me with. Today, the first word, dogs, gave me the insight that while Lazarus sat outside the rich man’s gate, full of sores, and quite poor, the most unlikely “person” showed him compassion by licking his wounds – the dogs. And then I thought about how often I have passed by those on the street, not willing to give anything or engage them in any way. And here we are in the time of Lent, I felt my heart moved and I decided this morning, I would change that habit with a planned giving (having a stack of gift cards, for instance, in my car or in my purse to give away). The second word, “chasm” showed me that I have a few gulfs between me and some people, not as wide as the rich man and Abraham, but nonetheless, self-inflicted by my lack of compassion and willingness to forgive. And so, both words, in the end, spoke to me of compassion and reaching across the gulfs between me and others.
  3. Oratio – the prayer part. This time, we read the passage again, and afterward, it’s time to form some words to God in response to the discoveries made during Meditatio. This time can be confession, intercession, or requests. The point is to acknowledge what God has revealed and confirm our understanding and response. “Dear God, forgive me for allowing gulfs and chasms to grow between me and others, whether friends, acquaintances, or strangers on the street. Give me a heart of compassion to reach out, however simply, with love and forgiveness and acceptance.”
  4. Contemplatio – the silent part. One can read again the passage or move right into this time of silence. It is in this part of the cycle, that we let go of the words and simply sit, as much as possible, clearing the mind and the heart, to simply rest in God’s Presence. Just silence. It takes practice.

This practice can be used by anyone anywhere. If you have tried to this practice, please leave your own comments about it’s value to you. For me, I do my best to incorporate it daily. Just so you know, some time ago, I slogged through the New Testament, for three years, sharing a verse that jumped out to me, one small chunk at a time. I had no idea then, I was already practicing Lectio Divina without even knowing it. How do you read prayerfully?

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To my faithful readers and subscribers as well as those who are new to my writing, I wanted to give you a heads up that I will be taking a break from my systematic walk through the New Testament in order to do a Lenten series.

As I considered where to begin, I imagined Jesus’s 40 days in the desert. Although it is often called his time of temptation, I believe he was seeking confirmation and enlightenment, communion with the Father, and focus for the days beyond. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, I will be doing the same, based on a series of scriptures taken from the Old Testament and the New.

Please join me on this daily journey, a type of discipline, a quest for understanding.

Some years ago, a dear priest friend of mine always said that Lent should be a time of letting go, a fasting, if you will, from some of the life’s luxuries but it is also a time for adding things of the spirit, time devoted to the things of God.

This is my Lenten offering to God and to you.

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John 1:1-2
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

It’s a strange time to have a beginning, the middle of May, but that’s just how it has worked out. Last year, I had just finished facilitating the Seeking Him bible study and felt convicted to dedicate myself to the discipline of a daily devotion time. I have not been perfect, but I have also not given up my quest, which for me, is all good!

Today is the beginning of my second year and I consider the importance of beginning with the Word. He is my source and my strength. He is the One with whom I want a primary relationship. It is in Him I hope and trust.

Last year my theme was based on Ps 25:1, “To You O Lord I lift up my soul.” But this year, I believe I will be pursuing discernment (…And this is my prayer: that [my] love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that [I] may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ… (Philippians 1:9-10).

May the meditations continue in this light and my thanks to those who share this journey with me.

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Preparing for Lent

In a few short days, it will once again be the time of Lent. It is my desire to once again do a series of devotions during this special time of the year. I believe the Lord is leading me to creating these posts from my personal devotions while slowly reading through the scriptures. In essence, all of the posts will be coming from the three gospels I have completed so far (well 2 1/2). For any of you who have been following this blog, I appreciate your prayers and support.

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It’s interesting to me that self-control is the 4th leg of this journey for sustaining our faith over the long haul. This bears some comment in my mind that you must have your faith, then your virtue or ability to “do good” and then knowledge to understand the why of it all and only then, is true self-control possible.

This is a key for me right now, today. You see, I suffer terribly from lack of self-control … that is, self-control of the right type. Over the years, I have confused self-control with “control” in general. In other words, I try to control my environment and the people in my environment as a substitute for controlling myself. This is not God’s best plan for me (or for the poor souls that are entangled with me – e.g. my family).

I think things are getting better. One way I have learned to enter this process is by taking a “holy inventory” each day. During my devotion time, right after praising God for “who He is,” I speak the scripture outloud, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” [Psalm 139:23-24] and as God reveals those moments in the past 24 hours that were displeasing to Him, that were sin, that were out of control, I ask for His forgiveness. This is a cleansing time allows me to move on.

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