Reflections on Scripture

You and the Creation Covenant The Martin Institute Part 4 of 20

§

Table of contents

§

Jeremiah 29:11

Read the following passage and prayerfully respond to the questions below.1

Jeremiah 29:11 –  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, …

  1. Question 1: Describe a time when you desperately needed God to give you understanding (or comfort) for a life situation.
  2. Question 2: In that situation, how did you interact with God?
  3. Question 3: When you read verses 13 and 14, what was the response of your heart?
  4. Question 4: Describe a time when you feel that you experienced God’s presence.

Daily Scripture Readings

During each day of the week spend some time reading and reflecting on the following passages of scripture referenced by Dallas Willard. Allow your thoughts to return to the passage throughout the day. [Note: These passages could also be tied to the rhythm of a retreat.

 

Day Theme Passage
Sunday Creation Covenant Genesis 1:26
Monday Aaronic Blessing Numbers 6:24-26
Tuesday Giving Thanks 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Wednesday Annunciation Luke 1:31-35
Thursday Hymn of Christ Philippians 2:6-11
Friday Prayer of the Publican Luke 18:13
Saturday Strength of God Isaiah 40:31

Lectio Divina: Abiding in a Familiar Passage of Scripture

Lectio Divina is a slow, contemplative way of praying the Scriptures that enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. It is one classic way of allowing the Word and presence of Christ to penetrate to the center of our being and begin a process of transforming us from the inside out.

There are four movements contained within this method of praying Scripture. The first movement is called “reading” or “listening.” The practice of lectio divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear “with the ear of our hearts” as St. Benedict describes in the Prologue of his Rule. It is a way of being more sensitive to the still, small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12), the “faint murmuring sound” which is God’s word for us, his voice touching our hearts.

The reading or listening, which is the first step in Lectio Divina, is very different from the speed reading you may be used to applying to magazines or novels. Lectiois reverential listening; listening both in a spirit of silence and of awe. In lectio we read slowly, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God’s communication for us this day.

The second step in lectio is meditation. Once through “listening,” if we have found a word, passage, or image in the Scripture which speaks to us in a personal way, we take it in and “ruminate” on it. We ponder it in our hearts. We do this by gently repeating a key word or phrase (or gazing on an image in the passage), allowing it to interact with our thoughts, hopes, memories and desires. This is the second step or stage in lectio, meditation. Through this phase we allow the word from God to become His word for us, a word that touches us at our deepest levels.

The third step in lectio divinais prayer: prayer understood both as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with the One who has invited us into His embrace; and as consecration, prayer as the priestly offering to God of parts of ourselves that we have not previously believed God wants. Here we allow the word that we have taken in and on which we are pondering to touch and change our deepest selves.

The final step is to rest in the presence of the One who has used His word as a means of inviting us to accept His transforming embrace.  It is the phase, called “contemplation” where there are moments when words are unnecessary.  Contemplation is wordless, quiet rest in the presence of the one who loves us.

For this exercise you are asked to use the text found in the Bible Study –

 

Psalm 37:1-7:

1Do not fret because of those who are evil
 or be envious of those who do wrong;
 2for like the grass they will soon wither, 
like green plants they will soon die away. 3Trust in the Lord and do good;
 dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 
4Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the Lord; 
trust in him and he will do this:
 6He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, 
your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord
 and wait patiently for him;

  1. Begin by placing yourself in a comfortable position and allowing yourself to become silent. Read the passage slowly and meditatively, watching and listening for a word or phrase that seems to light up in some way, to speak especially to you. It may be helpful to allow yourself to slowly read the passage two or three times. If a word or phrase lights up for you, sit with it for a few moments.
  2. Meditation. Repeat the phrase or gaze on an image from the passage, allowing God to speak to you through it. You may wish to take time to memorize it.
  3. Prayer. Enter into dialogue with God regarding what has touched or spoken to you from this passage.
  4. Rest. Allow yourself to simply rest in the embrace of God, knowing that you are loved.
Footnotes
  1. The process here is inspired by a form of Lection suggested by the Monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California. For their expanded version see: https://www.saintandrewsabbey.com/Lectio_Divina_s/267.htm
Listen to all parts in this Practicing the Presence series