Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Book Review: Praying Scripture for a Change

Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina


"Lectio Divina is an integral part of the Church's game plan for the renewal of faith in our times." Praying Scripture for a Change
I finally finished the book Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina, by Dr. Tim Gray.  I ordered it a couple of months ago from Interlibrary Loan and even though it is a short book (only 120 pages) I've had a lot going on in my life, and had to renew it for another month.  Waiting for my son in the dentist's office while he got a root canal, was an excellent opportunity to read through it and take copious notes.  I really liked it and will add this to my books every Catholic should read.

It is really hard for some reason to find information about how to do Lectio Divina (or divine reading - praying with the scriptures) properly.  A lot of websites have co-opted this method of prayer, which can lead to infused Contemplation, and have mingled it with Eastern prayer methods/Centering Prayer.  Eastern prayer methods, and it's offshoot Centering Prayer, are not really compatible with true Christian prayer which is not an "emptying of the mind" but a "love look with the heart."  Christian prayer is a conversation between persons who love each other.  Eastern prayer is a technique, not an exchange between lovers.

Lectio Divina is an ancient technique developed by a monk that starts with a slow, careful reading of the scriptures, followed by meditation, then prayer and then contemplation.  Christian meditation is not a relaxation technique but a "chewing" on of the scriptures to gain what you can from the text.  It is to figure out what the scripture means and what God is trying to tell you.  This leads to prayer and then a time of quiet with God that may, if God brings it to you, Contemplation.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It is simple, easy to understand and perfect for anyone truly wanting to know how to pray with the scriptures.  One thing that caught my attention was Dr. Gray's explanation of the fact scriptures are not written like modern day books that practically throw away words, but each and every word was written in scripture to be important and link to other places in the bible to make a cohesive whole.  Over a long time you slowly gain knowledge of this and can gain greater insight into how God works and what He is trying to say.

In practicing Lectio Divina, I think the hardest part is deciding which scriptures to use.  The steps themselves are easy and flow into each other, especially after reading Dr. Gray's text.  Buy this book, or find it in your library or through Interlibrary loan, but I highly recommend it and will be practicing Lectio Divina myself as often as I can.

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