Prayer can take many forms. When we are alone, we can fall into familiar patterns of prayer and our prayers can even become a little predictable. Not that it’s a bad thing, but sometimes we don’t really pour out our hearts to the Lord. Frankly, King David was great at engaging with God and even showing his frustration and anger to the Father. He’s a great example of someone who didn’t hold back when it came to his relationship with God.
Sometimes, people turn to Lectia Divina, an old style of studying the Scripture first adopted by St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monks. The idea is rather simple. Generally done in a small group, the leader reads a passage of Scripture and those in attendance just listen, letting the words wash over them.
The passage is read a second time, but during this reading the idea is to see if the Holy Spirit is convicting you in any way through certain words that catch your attention. A third reading follows, allowing you to confirm the leading or choose another set of words that impact you. Finally, a fourth reading happens. It is during this reading that you think about what the Holy Spirit wants you to do in response to this passage that you have now heard four times.
Lectia Devina can be quite impactful as a way to study Scripture, but it really isn’t quite the same as prayer. That’s where the idea of guided prayer comes into focus.
Guided prayer is the idea of following a pattern of prayer that takes us outside the normal prayers we offer in our daily lives. It can be done independently, or even with a leader as is customary in Lectia Divina. The idea, though, is that our prayers are broken down into several sections – spending time in each section allows us to deepen our reflective time with God and pass to the next level.
Guided prayer can start with the suggestion of thinking about God’s goodness and offering thanks to God for His relationship with us. This can include the sacrifice of His Son on the cross or just acknowledging our grateful appreciation for His love.
After several minutes of prayer on this topic, the next step is to lay our petitions and requests before the Lord. This can be personal, for our leaders, our families, our country, or any number of things that are on our hearts or minds. Some people may think that it is wrong, or even arrogant, to present our requests to God. But God implores us to come to Him with our petitions.
Finally, we listen in silence to what God may be trying to say to us. We serve a patient God and it is not unusual for God to wait until He has our undivided attention before He communicates with us.
This simple pattern of prayer allows us to deepen our thoughtfulness in prayer. And there is no particular pattern that we must follow. The point is that it is helpful for us, in our humanness, to have a plan when we pray so that we can keep our thoughts straight and move toward a conclusion of listening for God.
Our verse for tonight is a familiar one to many of us. Quite simply, the psalmist tells us, in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” My encouragement this evening is that God is waiting for us to enter into prayer and a conversation with Him. My prayer is that we will all deepen our prayers as we grow in our relationship with Christ and listen to the Creator of the universe as to what He wants for us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…