BREATH PRAYER: FATHER, transform my heart in this ordinary time.
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.
- In a journal, note the day, time, and place you’re sitting.
- Open with silence. Set a timer for 1, 3, or 5 minutes so you can be free to rest and breathe deeply.
- Complete the following sentence in your journal: Today, I feel ________________.
- Read the centering verse above slowly (aloud or silently).
- Pause for a few moments of silence, then pray this week’s breath prayer.
We read, under the eyes of God, until the heart is touched, and leaps to flame.
– Dom Marmion
The Scriptures offer us compelling invitations to understand and enter in to life with God. They are a phenomenally rich and active gift to us, providing layered insights into God’s work with humanity across times and cultures, and humanity’s attempts (often as unhelpful as our own) to understand God and make life work.
Most importantly though, the Bible exists to point us to Jesus. Like the Pharisees of John 5, sometimes, we are prone to fall into the trap of biblicism. This happens when we diligently read and even memorize the Bible but somehow miss the point – Jesus (who is the perfect picture of how God has always been).
A helpful way to sidestep this pitfall is to engage Scripture with a posture that is primarily prayerful, not intellectual. Here we seek formation, not information, as we come to the living, inspired, and active words of God.
Experiment with slowly spending your next time in Scripture by asking God to “brighten” certain parts of the passage you are reading, and asking to see Jesus’ heart there. This works especially well with a story from the Gospels or perhaps a few verses about who God is. Here is an approach (a version of what is called Lectio Divina) that might help get you started.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
- Read this passage slowly and heart-fully, asking God to meet you there. Envision yourself having written the words you are now reading, or imagine yourself as a recipient of this letter from Paul. How do you experience the text differently from each point of view?
- Read the passage again. Pay attention to what is “jumping off the page” at you. What is God highlighting for you? Notice what happens in your heart as you read. Do you feel encouraged, refreshed, or challenged by God? Do you feel resistant, afraid, anxious, or unresponsive? Let this moment of communion with God be a place of honest communication with Him about your feelings and desires.
- As you read the passage one final time, ask God to reveal how you are to respond. Is there a change of mind you need to make? Is there a healing and hopeful “living word” for you to hold to? Is there an action you need to take?
- Finally, take a few moments to simply be with God. Don’t purposefully try to think about the passage or to feel anything. Simply offer God a few moments to be together. Let it be like a bride in her groom’s arms or a child in his parent’s arms. Let God enjoy your presence as you enjoy His.
Summary: Write in your journal a brief summary (five sentences or less) of your practice.
Closing: Father, transform my heart in this ordinary time.
If you are unsure how to begin listening for God’s voice and leading in your life, listen to this message by Larry Green, given at the Parish. Feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com for more information or help with these practices.