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The power of praying with the Holy Scriptures

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Lectio Divina is an ancient monastic practice of prayerfully reading, and meditating on, the Sacred Scriptures. Photo: Unsplash.com
Lectio Divina is an ancient monastic practice of prayerfully reading, and meditating on, the Sacred Scriptures. Photo: Unsplash.com

The church recently celebrated the feast of the Conversion of St Paul—that life-changing moment in the life of Saul of Tarsus, which instantly transformed him from a violent persecutor of Christians to a man leading the church’s evangelical mission.

In his famous “road to Damascus” experience, Christ revealed himself to Saul-turned-Paul in a spectacle of dazzling light. It was a personal encounter that so changed Saul, that those around him “were astounded” (Acts 9:21).

While not all personal faith journeys include an experience quite so dramatic, the Lord is seeking to reveal himself to each of us in a uniquely personal, and equally powerful, way.

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In such a way that the very core of our being is so touched and changed by his light and truth, that we go forwards living completely differently.

Seven years ago, my life was radically changed when a religious sister introduced me to Lectio Divina—”divine reading.” It’s an ancient monastic practice of prayerfully reading, and meditating on, the Sacred Scriptures.

At that time, I was in a season of my life where my career was going great guns, as I hit my stride in my dream job of TV news reporting for Seven News Australia.

To say that many great opportunities were coming my way, is an understatement. They were coming at me with projectile-strength.

And while supremely grateful that many years of hard work were paying off, I was struggling in my bid to balance my blooming career with the various other areas of my life.

I will never forget that 2017 meeting with that religious sister. As I shared with her the challenge of my life balancing act, she asked me a question that has forever changed me: “Jo, do you read the Word of God every day?”

In a moment, I knew my answer. I knew it wasn’t what it should be.

While I was a committed Catholic, having regular moments of personal prayer, going to Mass several times a week, the answer was plain and simple.

No, I did not regularly open my Bible, and certainly did not read it every day.

In her kind and gentle way, the sister walked me through the steps of Lectio Divina, and encouraged me to make it a daily practice.

I was so desperate for more balance in my life that I was willing to do a radical schedule-edit, to carve out the daily time she suggested.

I went home that day, and diligently spent one hour in prayerful silence and solitude, reading and meditating on The Holy Word of God.

I did it again the next day. And the next day.

Seven years later, I have not missed a single day of Lectio Divina, so radically has that time with Christ, in the Scriptures, transformed every area of my life.

That life-balance I was seeking? I got it, big-time, by way of the wisdom and revelation the Holy Spirit unveiled to me.

Wisdom as to what to say yes to, what to say no to (a lot of things), and most importantly, revelation as to the crucial importance of quality, and quantity, time, in The Word, each day.

From that very first day, my mind and heart have been flooded with peace, light, clarity, understanding, joy, hope, freedom—the abundant “zoe” life Jesus talks about (John 10:10).

I have personally experienced what the psalmist writes in Psalm 1, “Blessed are they who meditate on The Word of God day and night … they are like a tree planted by streams of living water … everything they do shall prosper.”

As we diligently abide in the vine that is Christ and His Word, the branches of our life are in a position to soak up the life-giving water that we need to survive and truly thrive—now, and for all eternity.

Jo Hayes has recently launched lectiomeditatio.com – a practical what/why/how to the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina. You can find out more about Jo at johayes.com.au

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