Learn how to pray with scripture from the experts! (aka early Church fathers from the 3rd century, monks who do this for life, etc). This is one of the most ancient methods of praying with scripture.
How to Pray Lectio Divina
It's helpful to have a journal. Choose a small passage from the bible to pray with. Start with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. Amen."
Step 1: Lectio - from the Latin word for "reading" (What the passage says)
- The first step is to understand what the reading is about. All you are trying to obtain is the general synopsis of the passage
- Try and understand the context, characters, actions, events, place, and message.
- You may want to write down a summary of the passage or paraphrase each verse.
Step 2: Meditatio - from the Latin word for "meditation" (What the passage says to me)
This step involves savoring the words in scripture to draw out what the Lord is trying to say to you personally. This is because He has a word for you today. It does not matter how you may be feeling; tired, bored, excited, sad, or happy the Lord has a word for you despite these feelings. He will speak about your current problems and joys at home, school, work, or in your relationships. Sometimes He will comfort or encourage you, and other times He will give you a spiritual kick in the butt.
One mistake, that is a common pitfall, is to say, "oh, I already know this passage." In this way you stop listening to the Holy Spirit. Another mistake is to apply the scripture to someone else's life. Always aim to focus on the Lord.
- Choose at least one word, or verse, or something that drew your attention. You may not even know why that particular word or verse has struck you. Repeat the word or verse to yourself. Copy it down.
- Begin to ask the Lord why you are drawn to these particular words. Ask Him: how does this apply to my life? What does it say to me today? How does it relate to my work, family, relationships, problems, studies, prayer life, my search for God, or the judgements I make or any other aspects of my life? Write these down.
- Sometimes He may speak to you in a way that is more personal, write this down.
- You may want to write a title to this verse or prayer time. What is the theme of what God is telling you?
Step 3: Oratio - from the Latin word for "speech or prayer" (what I say to God)
Now that the Lord has spoken to you personally, what are you to say to Him? Do you need to ask Him for grace, forgiveness, strength, or help in a situation, or simply to thank Him for His steadfast love? Speak to Him from your heart, as you would a close friend.
- Write down your prayer.
Step 4: Contemplatio - from the Latin word for "contemplation" (being with God)
What is contemplative prayer? St Teresa of Avila answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us." Contemplative prayer seeks Him "whom my soul loves" (Song of Songs 1:7)...In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord Himself.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2709
At any point in Lectio Divina, when you begin to sense the presence of God, stop any mental effort you are making and just rest in and enjoy His presence. Don't feel like you have to go "step by step" as if by a formula in order to complete this prayer properly. St Rose of Lima used to pray the Our Father but not be able to finish it because the thought of the Father filled her with love, and the Spirit moved her to heartfelt tears. Remember that contemplation is a gift from God, not something we can do ourselves.
Based on an explanation written by Dan Driver with NET Ministries, 2012