How to practice lectio divina

Feed your soul with sacred scripture

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

Do you ever wonder what God is saying to you? Even when we know He speaks to us through the Word of God, delving into the Bible can be intimidating.

One way to gain a deeper sense of God’s guidance for our unique situations in life is through the practice of Lectio Divina, which is a Latin term that can be interpreted as “Divine Reading.”

How to connect more deeply with God through the practice of Lectio Divina

It’s actually pretty simple!

1 – Just find a little quiet time and place, where you won’t be distracted.

2 – Select a passage of sacred scripture to reflect on. Personally, I like to reflect on the upcoming week’s gospel reading, so I already feel connected to it before Sunday mass. Any passage will do though!

3 – Open your heart with a little prayer for the Holy Spirit to be present through this time of prayer and contemplation.  Maybe something like “God, I offer you this time of practicing Lectio Divina. Please help me to sense Your guidance to the fullest possible extent. Give me the grace to open my heart more fully to Your presence through this sacred time of prayer. Thank you and Amen.”

4 – Slowly set out to read the text three times.

During the first reading, ask yourself the question: What phrase is popping out on me that God wants me to key in on?
Meditate and contemplate on whatever word or phrase that is and just stay totally open to any guidance from the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability.

The second time you read it, contemplate: What does God want me to know right now?
This could have to do with the previous phrase He had you key in on or it could be something completely different, just try to stay in a state of open receptivity to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The third time you read it, reflect on: What action step does God want me to take?
This own’t necessarily be an item to check off of your to do list. It could be “practice patience,” or “surrender.” Or maybe it won’t be something you can even articulate, it will just be a stronger sense of God’s presence in your life.

5. Just gradually allow your heart to open and sink into a deeper sense of God’s presence and guidance. Ultimately, Lectio Divina can open us up to receive the gift of Contemplative prayer, which draws us closer in union with God.

Lectio Divina even even works well with a small group of people, who are comfortable sharing faith with each other. Just take turns slowly reading the text out loud then share insights with each other.

Prayer: 
God bless anyone reading this to open their hearts and minds to a deeper appreciation for the ways you speak to us through the Word of God and also the ways You communicate to us directly through the power of the Holy Spirit. Help time spent in Lectio Divina be a time of growing closer to You and stronger in faith. Amen. 

Have you had an experience practicing Lectio Divina as an individual or with a small group? Please share your experiences below. 

Shift your focus to faith

To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.
– Walt Whitman

To fully experience the joy a life of faith can offer, we must cultivate a spirit of gratitude. Life can be hard, but the truth is: God is walking with us through it all, whether our hearts are open enough to appreciate His works and wonders or not.

Personally, I’ve been blessed to witness the mind blowing, faith-enhancing miraculous healing of my middle child from kidney disease, which doctor’s thought he’d have for his whole life.

Daniel 4:2-3: “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.”

I’ve also struggled through seasons of sorrow, where my heartfelt prayers seemed powerless to change a harsh reality I was facing.

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Through it all, my faith has grown into a deep appreciation not only for the awe-inspiring ways God blesses us with the desires of our hearts but also for the ways God purifies our souls through trials and tribulation.

James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I have questioned deeply what the most powerful way to share faith is. How can I share the joy of my spirituality and belief in miracles, while also being real about struggles? Let’s face it, many parts of our faith journey involve waiting on the Lord, which can feel excruciating.

We know “all things work for the good of those, who love God and are called according to His purposes,” but how do we experience this in our daily lives when we’re struggling?

This is a big question with many answers I hope to blog about over time. One thing I think helps tremendously is to cultivate a miraculous mindset.

A miraculous mindset is just a choice to intentionally focus on all the serendipitous encounters, moments of grace and mini miracles of daily life.  They’re there if we look for them, but all to often we fail to notice. 

The more we focus on God’s actions in our lives, the more we witness them and appreciate His steadfast presence in good times and bad. This increases our faith and naturally motivates us to praise Him and pray, which starts a ripple effect of receiving increasingly more grace and miracles over time. It’s that simple!

Prayer works, but we have to wait sometimes. And one way to keep our spirits up is to focus on the good and miraculous things God is doing for us in daily life.

So, the question is: what wonders is God working in your life lately? Has He given you perfect weather and sweet words from a toddler you love or arranged a chance meeting with an old friend that meant a lot to you? Has He given you a sense of His loving spiritual presence or performed a dramatic miraculous healing in your life? (I can vouch that they happen!)

To get you thinking, here are some miniature miracles I’ve experienced in recent weeks. These are actually what I consider big ones, praise God for having an amazing couple of weeks!

On a recent trip to the ocean, on our first night there we saw whales spouting from our living room window in the distance and were able to cuddle up as a family and watch them for hours. This was a total dream come true and a magical memory our whole family will always treasure. I had prayed that God show us the wonders of nature, and I believe He orchestrated that to razzle dazzle us on night one, which he proceeded to do for the entire trip. I actually think even just getting away for a vacation to such a beautiful place was a miracle with our busy lives. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the priceless experiences we shared.

Just yesterday, I received a snail mail letter of love, appreciation and encouragement from a dear friend, as if her consistent loving presence in my life isn’t enough of a gift from God. This letter melted my heart in a big way. I’m someone, who has walked through seasons of  loneliness and experienced extreme lack of supportive community. Though I now see how God used those times to forge a deeper relationship directly with Him, they were very hard at the time. So now after all these years to be nourished with so much support from faith-filled friends is truly a miracle to me, I am so grateful!

These are just a few personal examples! I could go on about all the sweet miraculous moments of everyday life as a mother, even though my kids truly drive me crazy very often. I’ll save the grit and grace of praying through motherhood for another blog post!

But I write this to help YOU get thinking about the miniature miracles in your own life.

Prayer
God bless anyone reading this to receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and to be filled with the grace to realize Your Powerful Presence in every aspect of their lives. Bless them immeasurably and help them to appreciate all the gifts you are constantly pouring into them.

Reflection Questions
What beautiful thing happened to you lately that you couldn’t have orchestrated yourself? How does God work through the people and experiences of your life to bless you through good times and bad? 

Action Step
Start a gratitude journal! Write three loving things God did for you every single day before you go to bed, and watch your perception of life shift. Miracles truly are a mindset you can cultivate with a little intentionality, and you will be so glad you did. 

Share a mini miracle you’ve experienced in the comments below. We’ll praise God for all the ways He’s blessing your life and pray for you to receive ever-more grace from Him.

How to transform your fears into faith

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

I am a born worrier, who has been transformed by grace into a prayer warrior, who doesn’t stay stuck in fear for very long.

I credit my sensitive disposition as one of the factors that sparked my spiritual journey, which has forever enriched my life.

So if you’re a worrier, I see that as great news.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not an advocate of fear by any means. I agree with Jesus, who  advised us to “be not afraid” in a myriad of creative ways.

But I also see anxiety as an excellent launching point to grow a soul-satisfying faith life.

I mean! So many people wander the earth in a superficial way, carelessly trodding through life oblivious to people around them and the negative effects of their insensitivity.

Worriers don’t make that mistake.

Worriers  tend to be highly sensitive people, who feel things deeply and naturally want to care for others. Worriers tend to be thoughtful, compassionate and fiercely loving human beings, who are wired to pay attention to the emotional landscape all around them.

Though worriers run the risk of getting overwhelmed, it’s because they’re perceptive and brave enough to notice the heartache and risks that really do exist all around them.

I see this a good thing because we can’t pray for a problem that we don’t even know exists.

The mind of a worrier is a natural prayer list creator – we just need need to practice shifting our fears into faith, so God’s grace can start transforming us into the prayer warriors He’s calling us to be.

Here are a few habits that can begin to transform your fear into faith:

1 – Take time to quiet your mind in prayer and meditation every morning
The early hours are best for this because it’s quiet, while everyone else is sleeping. This literally can rewire your brain to be more peaceful.

2 – Cultivate mindfulness throughout the day
Pay attention to your thoughts, take more deep breaths. Notice when you’re starting to think fearfully.

3 – When you find yourself panicking, pray instead
When you pay attention to your thoughts, you have the power to shift into prayer. For example, if a news headline makes you fear war, pray for peace. When you’re concerned about a friend, cover her in prayer. When you’re afraid of losing your job, pray for God to guide you to a more secure one.

It really is this simple! Just stick with it. Grace is transformational, but it takes time to rewire our brain from worrying into warrior-ing.

Do you struggle with worry? Comment below, so we can pray for you to experience more of God’s peace in your life?  

Do you believe in the power of a mother's prayers?

The Power of Mothers who Pray

Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, contemplative prayer on a computer screen;) Dive a little bit deeper into your life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey!

This poem explores the power of prayer, especially the prayers of mothers, who pray together for needs of each other’s children. Enjoy! 

The Power of Mothers who Pray

Is there anything more powerful than a mother who prays?
She doesn’t look like much, I know …
on bended knee, alone
But isn’t there something about a woman who opens her heart to the Lord?
Who is brave enough to realize her own vulnerability in loving these children so much?
Who is strong enough to admit she can’t raise them alone?

Is there anything more powerful than a mother who puts her trust in the Lord?
She seems a little crazy, I know.
Pouring her heart out to a man, who is invisible.
But isn’t there something about a woman, who is wise enough to let go of her illusions of control?
Who is brave enough to admit that even Her love for them isn’t enough?
Who is strong enough to believe a sacred truth she can feel deep in her soul?

What about a group of mothers who pray together?
Busy women, who take time out of their schedules to meet each week,
entrusting each other and God with their concerns?

What about the mothers, who are brave enough
to unite in faith and friendship,
lifting each other up and praying
as passionately for the needs of each other’s children as their own?

What about a group of women,
who open their hearts to lift up the needs of a larger family,
a school?
an entire community?
children they may never know?
How powerful can they be?

I’m not kidding myself.
I know that even together, we don’t have the power to move mountains or part seas.
But I also know the deeper truth that
United in prayer as mothers,
we can expect to see God do even greater things.
I pray He gives us the eyes to see His miraculous love all around us.

Reflection: Are you a praying mama? If not, how can you incorporate more prayer into your busy life? 

Prayer: God bless women to be inspired to turn to you and entrust their children to You. Help increase faith and trust in You! 

Action Step: Get up 15 minutes early to spend time in contemplative prayer! Have you tried lectio Divina? Grab some girlfriends and meet weekly to pray together! 

Do you know what God is calling you to do? www.uniteinprayer.org

Answering the Calling

Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, contemplative prayer on a computer screen;) Dive a little bit deeper into your life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey! 

This poem explores the beauty of following a calling from God, even though it takes us through times of trial. Enjoy! 

Answering the Calling

It’s like a little ball of light in your heart that glows
and gets bigger the longer you follow it.
Brighter
and bolder too.

It will help to know some things in advance.

While mesmerized by the brilliance of it,
You can fully expect to be led into dark places that terrify you
and make your soul scream with the heaviness of every emotion you’ve ever avoided.
You will ache deeply.

The light will be your only consolation until it’s gone.

One day after putting all your hope and trust in it for years and
letting go of everything else in the process,
it will disappear entirely from your view.
You will be left alone,
lost in the deepest woods to fend for yourself with no comfort.

Being prepared for this won’t make it any easier.
But please know in advance that this journey is worth the toll it takes.

You are going somewhere.
Your trust was not misplaced, and
when the light comes back it will be more radiant than the brightest dawn.

You will be illuminated with every love, joy and truth known to man.
The glistening purity will pierce your soul, and
You will know the difference between who you are and what it is

Suddenly, you will be free to do more than blindly follow:
You will become one with the light.
Others will sense something luminous in you and have an opportunity to decide for themselves.

Is there any other path to freedom?

Reflection: Have you ever thought about what your calling from God is before? Have you ever had a sense that God was nudging you to follow him in a particular way? Did you listen? Have you ever prayed to God for guidance? Do you have the courage to follow Him even if He asks you to do hard things? 

Prayer: God bless everyone reading this to hear Your calling for their life! Fill their heart with a sense of Your presence, adn give them the courage to follow Your voice, along with the strength to persevere through their highest calling from You. 

Spiritual Toolbox: If you’re still learning to tune into Divine Guidance, I encourage you to try Lectio Divina. It’s an ancient practice of diving into the Word of God in order to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit. Learn more here. 

Prayer for Healing Addictions

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone, the new is here.”
-2 Corinthians 5:17

God bless and heal our loved ones, who are struggling to break free from addiction to harmful substances and behaviors.  

Sometimes it feels like we’re losing them to the darkness of their issues. They’ve changed so much it feels like their bright, beautiful spirits are fading away. We love them, and we’ve tried so hard to help them!

But Lord, our efforts have failed to heal this disease of substance abuse. We’ve learned that all we can do is surrender them with prayer into Your loving arms and hope for the best.

Only You have the power to break the chains of their addictions. Only You have the power to heal them and restore them into the loving people we once could trust. 

Please pour Your grace over every aspect of their lives!

Bring Your spirit of healing into any underlying issues, which made them vulnerable to addiction in the first place.

Help them experience Your love, which we know is what they’re really craving, even as they try to find comfort in dangerous substitutes.

Fill them with the supernatural courage it will take to find healthy replacements for every one of their addictive behaviors.

Strengthen the very essence of their being, so they can break free from all of the harmful patterns they keep repeating.

Surround them with supportive people, who have overcome similar issues and can lovingly walk them through every step of the recovery process.

Help them to realize how deeply they are loved and how very much they will be able offer others, when they are restored to health again. Open their hearts to realize they are totally forgiven by You for all of their mistakes, no matter what they’ve done: all they have to do is let go of their addiction.

Guide them to the perfect 12-step program, along with doctors and counsellors to address all their medical needs on their path to wellness.

Give them hope in You and a vision for a better life! Give them strength to persevere through the recovery process, no matter how long it takes.  

Please provide protection and healing for those, who have been hurt by the behaviors stemming from their addiction as well. Let this addictive pattern stop here, Lord.

We entrust them to the power of Your Divine Mercy, forgiveness and healing always! Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Do you have a loved one, who is suffering from a problem with addiction? Please share your story below, and we will lift them up in prayer right alongside you!  God bless.

Gorgeous Chaos

Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, contemplative prayer on a computer screen;) Dive a little bit deeper into your life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey! 

This poem explores the benefits of letting go of control to trust God with our lives. It also encourages us to live in the present moment and have gratitude for the little blessings life offers us. 

Gorgeous Chaos

There are some things we want
that we can’t work for to get.

Snow falls down from the sky on a Tuesday
and stops
that night without ever asking if we had enough
or even if we wanted it in the first place.

Of course, we did.
at least a part of us did;
the part that likes to gaze out the window at fluffy beauty raining down like joy …
the open part of us,
the awe and wonder.
The stalwart core of us that’s willing to embrace the cold and bundle up
to experience magic first hand at a moment’s notice,
oblivious to the bitter chill in the air.

www-uniteinprayer-org-8

There are things we can work for too.
we can set goals and accomplish them.
we can make money and keep things orderly.
we can stick to the plan no matter what’s falling from the sky.

I think we have a choice to make when snow comes.
It makes sense to decide it’s too cold and wet to go outside;
There really will be too much laundry.
But will we reject an outpouring of gifts from the heavens because of a little mess?

Who created this gorgeous chaos anyway?
Don’t you think He wants us to experience it?

who-created-this-gorgeous-chaos-anyway

I opened up the deepest chamber of my heart and made a choice.
Then suddenly, I felt something in my soul hop on her sled.
She slipped down to the edge of the yard faster than she expected.
I found her beaming at the bottom of the hill
with fluffy flakes swirling around her face like a picture frame,
expressing the purest joy.

Reflection: This poem is not about the snow!  It’s about accepting God’s grace, which isn’t always easy or practical. We all know God’s plan for our lives is more amazing than we can imagine, but we don’t all have the courage to follow it. Are you open to the gorgeous chaos of God’s vision for your life? Or are you missing the blessings because you’re so focused on being in control?

Prayer: God, give us the eyes to see the gifts and guidance you give us and the courage to accept them with open hearts and minds. Amen.