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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spirituality: Praying with Scripture

God speaks to us First

This fundamental truth makes it possible for us to pray: God has been concerned for each of us before we became concerned for ourselves. God desires to communicate with us.

God speaks to us continually, revealing Himself to us in various way:

1. Through Jesus Christ, His Word,
2. Through the Church, the extension of Christ in the world,
3. Through other people (because we are joined together in Christ),
4. Through the visible creation all around us, which forms the physical context of our lives,
5. Through the events and experiences of our lives,
6. Through Holy Scripture.

God invites us to Listen

Our response to God’s initial move is to listen to what God is saying: this is the basic attitude of prayer.

How to Go About Listening

What you do immediately before prayer is important.

• Normally, it is something you do not rush right into.
• Spend a few moments quieting yourself and relaxing.
• Settling yourself into a prayerful and comfortable position.

In listening to anyone, you try to tune out everything, except what the person is saying to you. In prayer this can be done best in silence and solitude.

Select a short passage from Holy Scripture. Read through a few times to familiarize yourself with it. Put a marker in the page. Try to find a quiet place where you can be alone and uninhibited in your response to God’s presence. Try to quiet yourself interiorly. Jesus would often go up to a mountain by himself to pray with his Father.

In an age of noise, activity, and tensions like our own, it is not always easy or necessary to forget our cares and commitments, the noise and excitement of our environment. Never feel constrained to blot out all distractions. Anxiety in this regard could get between ourselves and God.

Rather, realize that the Word did become flesh, that he speaks to us in the noise and confusion of our day. Sometimes in preparing for prayer, relax and listen to the sounds around you. God’s presence is as real as they are.

Be conscious of your sensations and living experiences of feeling, thinking, hoping, loving, of wondering, and desiring. Then, conscious of God’s unselfish, loving presence in you, address Him simply and admit: “Yes, you do love life and feeling into me. You do love a share of your personal life into me. You are present to me. You live in me. Yes, You do.”

God is present as a person, in you through God’s Spirit, who speaks to you now in Scripture, and who prayers in you and for you.

Ask God for the grace to listen to what the Spirit is saying.

Begin reading Scripture slowly and attentively. Do not hurry to cover much material.

If it recounts an event in Christ’s life, be there in the mystery of it. Share with the persons involved, e.g., a blind man being cured. Share their attitude. Respond to what Jesus is saying.

Some words or phrases carry special meaning for you. Savor these words, turning them over in your heart.

When something strikes you, for example:

• You feels a new way of being with Christ,
• He becomes for you in a new way (for instance, you sense what it means to be healed by Christ),
• You experience God’s love,
• You experience new meaning,
• You are moved to do something good,
• You are peaceful,
• You are happy and content just to be in God’s presence,
• You are struggling with or disturbed by what the words are saying,

This is the time to pause….
This is God speaking directly to you in the words of Scripture.
Do not hurry to move on. Wait until you are no longer moved by the experience.
Do not get discouraged if nothing seems to be happening.

Sometimes God lets us feel dry and empty in order to let us realize it is not in our own power to communicate with Him or to experience consolation. God is sometimes very close to us in His seeming absence. (Psalm 139: 78) God is for us entirely in a selfless way, accepting us as we are, with all our limitations – even with our seeming inability to pray. A humble attitude of listening is a sign of love for Him, and a real prayer from the heart.

The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness, for when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words. (Romans 8:26-27)

Relax in prayer. Remember. God will speak to you in His own way.

“Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” (Isaiah 55: 10-11)

Spend time in your prayer just being conscious of God’s presence in and around you. If you want to, speak with God about the things you are interested in or wish to thank God for – your joys, sorrows, aspirations.

Summary: The Five “P’s”

Passage from Scripture. Pick none and have it marked and ready.

Place. Where you are alone and uninhibited in your response to God’s presence.

Posture. Relaxed and peaceful. A harmony of body with spirit.

Presence of God. Be aware of it and acknowledge and respond to it. When you are ready, turn to the

Passage of Scripture. Read it slowly (aloud), attending carefully and peacefully to it.


Read aloud or whisper in a rhythm with your breathing a phrase at a time with pauses and repetitions when and where you feel like it.

Do not be anxious. Do not try to look for implications or lessons or profound thoughts or conclusions or resolutions. Be content to be like a child who climbs into its parent’s lap and listens.

Carry on a conversation (Colloquy) with the Lord concerning what you hear or feel or what you need or what you have experienced.


After the period of prayer is over it is helpful to reflect back over the experience of prayer. This will help you notice what the Lord is doing in your experience.

From Joseph Sobb, S.J. of the Australian province

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