116 – Praying with Scripture – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Many mornings I read the responsorial psalm for the day and last Friday I was in for a surprise.  The psalm that morning was –

Psalm 18:2-5 © (from the New Jerusalem Bible)

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The heavens proclaim the glory of God,
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.

Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

No speech, no word, no voice is heard
yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

(One of the places you can find the daily responsorial psalm is http://www.universalis.com/usa/mass.htm .)

The opening was very familiar (maybe too familiar) but when I fully heard the words, “No speech, no word, no voice is heard / yet their span extends through all the earth,”  it was like hearing a wonderful song for the first time.  Not only did it surprise me and not only did it capture my full attention, I found I had to read it over and over and let it settle deeper and deeper into me.  Maybe you want to call what happened that morning meditating, or praying with Scripture, or lectio divina.  What you name it is not important.  That we allow ourselves to stay in those moments when we hear something speak to us so deeply is what is important.  We need to learn to not rush past those moments.  For me that day, my hearing of the Psalm did end that morning.  The echo of the Psalm came to me several times during the day and I had to stop and pay attention.

While I cannot know if this Psalm will reach you as it reached me, I want to invite you to spend time with it.  You might want to spend time with it over several days.  One way of praying with Scripture is often called lectio divina.  Below you will find one description of the “four movements” of lectio divina (I also shared this description in week #36 ).

1. Read – Read a short passage of scripture slowly, listening with the “ear of your heart.”  Listen for a sentence or phrase or word that captures your attention.  Stay with what has captured you and give your full attention, mind and heart, to it.  Repeat it as you let it fill your mind and heart.

2. Reflect – Giving your full attention to the words, relish them,  In a spirit of quiet receptiveness be attentive to what speaks to your heart.  This is a time of going deeper in listening.  Initially you read the words.  Now you let the words speak to you and you listen.  In this quietness you open yourself fully to God’s presence.

3. Respond – As you listen to the sentence or phrase or word, you respond spontaneously.  Perhaps a prayer of thanksgiving or praise or petition comes to you.  Give voice to that response. Your attention stays with phrase or word but you are noticing what that provokes, calls forth in your and you acknowledge that in God’s presence.

4. Rest – You have come to a place to be with God.  Don’t hurry, don’t run, don’t try to accomplish anything, rest with God.  If you are drawn back to the scripture go there, if you are drawn to silence go there.  Follow God in as you are lead.

Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking these are “steps” that are to be done always in sequence and for a certain number of minutes each.  While setting aside a specific amount of time might be helpful in beginning this practice, it misses the essence of the practice, listening for God, responding to God, letting God fill your life.

Are you ready to sit with the Psalm for a while and let it lead you?


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