Monday, July 13, 2009

In the last two weeks I have enjoyed learn about the benefits of meditation. I heard Faith Formation Leader Jan Johnson and Yoga Instructor Jenny Smith speak about using meditation to enhance our spiritual life. Jenny shared the health and spiritual benefits and led the audience through a meditation that left us relaxed after a busy day. Jan described the purpose of scriptural meditation as a way to “savor the text and enter into it” and allow God to speak to us.

In his book Contemplative Bible Reading, Richard Peace shares the history of meditation and describes a simple four-step process of scriptural meditation. One of the most common methods of meditation is called lectio divina, a Latin phrase that means “divine reading.” Over 1,500 years ago the early monks would set aside time for personal reading, prayer, and reflection. A monk would go to a private place and begin to repeat aloud a passage from Scripture, often from the Psalms or Gospels. The monk spoke the passage out loud until he was struck by a particular word or phrase. Then he would stop and ponder this word or phrase, believing it to be a word from God for him.This meditation led naturally into prayer as the monk offered back to God what he heard. As he moved deeper and deeper into prayer, he would come to the place where he rested in the presence of God.

One of the first leaders to use lectio divina as a spiritual exercise was Benedict, an Italian monk who lived in the fifth and sixth centuries (about 480-550). Benedict’s Rule for Monks in 525 AD outlines four steps for scriptural meditation.

1. Reading/Listening: Read aloud a short passage of Scripture. As you read, listen for the word or phrase that speaks to you. What is the Spirit drawing your attention to?
2. Meditating: Repeat aloud the word or phrase to which you are drawn. Make connections between it and your life. What is God saying to you by means of this word or phrase?
3. Praying: Now take these thoughts and offer them back to God in prayer, giving thanks, asking for guidance, asking for forgiveness, and resting in God's love. What is God leading you to pray?
4. Contemplating: Move from the activity of prayer to the stillness of contemplation. Simply rest in God's presence. Stay open to God. Listen to God. Remain in peace and silence before God. How is God revealing Himself to you?

Other tips for meditating on God
Use all 5 senses during meditation.
Personalize the text by inserting your name.
Meditate on God’s works and wonders during a walk in nature.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14


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