PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE 1
This fundamental truth makes it possible for us to pray. God has been concerned for each of us long before we became concerned for ourselves.
God desires communication with us and does so in many different ways:
How To Go About Listening
What you do immediately before prayer is very important. Normally, it is something you do not rush right into. Spend a few moments quieting yourself and relaxing, settling yourself into a prayerful and comfortable position. In listening to anyone, you try to tune out everything except what the person is saying to you.
In prayer this can be done best in silence and solitude. Select a short passage from scripture. Read it through a few times to familiarize yourself with it. Put a marker in the page. Try to find a quiet place where you can be alone and uninhibited in your response to God's presence. Try to quiet yourself interiorly. Jesus would often go up to a mountain alone to pray with his Abba. In an age of noise, activity, and tensions like our own, it is not always easy or necessary to forget our cares and commitments, the noise and excitement of our environment. Never feel constrained to blot out all distractions. Anxiety in this regard could get between ourselves and God. Rather, realize that the word did become flesh -- that God speaks to us in the noise and confusion of our day.
Sometimes in preparing for prayer, relax and listen to the sounds around you. God's presence is as real as they are. Be conscious of your sensations and living experiences of feeling, thinking, hoping, loving, of wondering, desiring, etc. Then, conscious of God's unselfish, loving presence in you, address God simply and admit: "Yes, you do love life and feeling into me. You do love a share of your personal life into me. You are present to me. You live in me. Yes, you do."
God is present in you through the Spirit, who speaks to you now in scripture, and who prays in you and for you. Ask for the grace to listen to what God says. Begin reading Scripture slowly and attentively. Do not hurry to cover much material.
If it recounts an event of Jesus' life, be there in the mystery of it Share with the persons involved, e.g., a blind man being cured. Share their attitude. Respond to what Jesus is saying. Some words or phrases carry special meaning for you. Savour those words, turning them over in your heart.
When something strikes you, e.g.,
( e.g., as healing or accepting you in a way different than other times)
This is God speaking directly to you in the words of Scripture.
Do not hurry to move on.
Wait until you are no longer moved by the experience. Don't get discouraged if nothing seems to be happening.
Sometimes God lets us feel dry and empty in order to let us realize it is not in our own power to communicate or to experience consolation. God is sometimes very close to us in seeming absence (Ps 139:7-8). God is for us entirely, in a selfless way, accepting us as we are, with all our limitations - even with our seeming inability to pray. A humble attitude of listening is a sign of love for God, and a real prayer from the heart. At these times remember the words of Paul, "The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness, for when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, it is the Spirit who expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words"(Rom 8:26-27).
Relax in prayer. Remember, God will speak to you in God's own way. "Yes, as the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do"(Is 55:10-11).
Spend time in your
prayer just being conscious of God's presence in and around you. If you
want to, speak about the things you are interested in or wish to thank
God for, your joys, sorrows, aspirations, and so forth.
ENTERING INTO RETREAT 2
Therefore I begin by quieting my being both interiorly and exteriorly taking the norm of silence as being extremely important for an atmosphere which will allow my Caring God to communicate personally with me. I shall take care to be recollected, to relax, to let go in this nurturing presence.
The first gift I shall seek from God on this retreat in every prayer period and throughout these first days is the gift of deep confidence and trust in God's care.
I shall plan on making at least four periods of prayer each day, at least fifteen minutes; at most an hour each. As the retreat progresses I can discover with the help of my spiritual guide the number of prayer periods and the length of time of each period that may be more appropriate for me.
In between the times of prayer I shall try to keep in harmony with the gift I am seeking either by relaxing, or by reading the supplementary scriptural texts, or by sleeping, or by enjoying nature, or by ruminating, or by a combination of these ways of recollecting oneself. I do all this in order that I may become more and more responsive to God speaking to me.
For the prayer periods I can choose one or other of the following key scripture texts:
We are being
led by the Spirit
When we disclose
When we listen
-----adapted from an unknown author
1. Adapted from my cousin Armand Nigro, sj. who is so generous with his work. Back to document
This outline is particularly useful for the person who arrives ready to
make a directed retreat and the director is not available soon after the
arrival. It is also helpful for the beginning of a directed retreat. Back
Orientations Vol 1 And Its table Of Contents