The Catholic Church teaches that praying with scripture is integral to our Christian life. We are taught that scripture is the living word of God. The sad truth is that many Catholics are not familiar with scripture except for the Sunday mass readings. Sometimes due to distractions, these sacred words go in one ear and out the other, so to speak. Often the homily does not enrich the meaning and application of the readings for those present.
One way to make up for this deficit is to consciously set time aside to read and reflect on scripture. I suggest beginning with one gospel from the Christian scriptures, or what we call the New Testament. Begin with the Gospel of Mark, the first gospel written and also the shortest of the four gospels. Begin with one small section of the gospel and choose one passage. The following steps may help.
- Read the passage slowly – out loud, if possible. Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. I know a woman who has a large, busy family. There’s rarely a quiet moment or private place to pray. She chooses to go to her garage and sit in her car for 20-30 minutes every evening. This is her time to reflect and pray with scripture.
- Imagine yourself as one of the characters or as if the words are spoken to you personally. Become a part of the story. Let it speak to you as you enter into the story.
- Re-read aloud the passage again keeping your character or the words in mind. Reading the section again helps to see new nuances or focuses on something new that strikes you as you read.
- Stop at that word or phrase that strikes you and spend some time with it. Think about what the word or phrase is saying to you. Does it invite you to something new in your life?
- Apply the insight to yourself. What does the passage call you to do? Are you called to change something in your life? Be open to the insights that come and be willing to act on them.
- Ask for the grace to do what you are inspired to do. End the session with prayer asking God to strengthen you to be the person God is calling you to become.
We’re told practice makes perfect. This practice of praying with scripture consciously and consistently can change lives. Are you willing to take the chance to be changed by praying with and reflecting on scripture?
How can you begin/deepen your practice of reflecting on and praying with scripture?
When and how have you grown by praying with and reflecting on scripture?