Sometimes I feel like I need a spiritual boost in order to re-ignite my prayer life. I feel like I know all the things I should know in order not to get lax in prayer, but there are times when I feel myself getting lazy.
There are a lot of things I could try to do in this state. I could read the hottest new book on the Catholic bookshelf or find a religious talk to go to—both are very good ways to try to grow in my Faith. Yet, I find that I often receive inspiration in the things which I too frequently take for granted and look past. To put it simply, I find Jesus when I am being more childlike.
Recognizing Your Identity
There is one short story that always builds a hunger in me to sit with the Father, and this is the book You Are Special by Max Lucado. This childhood favorite of mine reads like a love letter from God the Father to me His child.
Now, when I read this book to my daughter, I love that I am both teaching her about God’s love while also being reminded of how precious I am in His sight. When I turn the last page over, my heart longs to run to the Father and sit at His feet, listening to His words of truth over my life.
One way I’ve learned to sit with the Father more intentionally (or Eli, as He is named in the book) is by praying with Scripture through Lectio Divina.
Praying With Scripture
Lectio Divina is Latin for “Divine Reading” and it is a great way to dive more deeply into the Word of God.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI emphasized the power of Lectio Divina in his Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini. Here he mentioned Lectio Divina as a way to “be struck by the inexhaustible freshness of God’s word which never grows old.”
He quoted the early Christian scholar, Origen, who said to never give up praying with Scripture:
If during the lectio you encounter a closed door, knock and it will be opened to you…By applying yourself in his way to lectio divina, search diligently and with unshakable trust in God for the meaning of the divine Scriptures, which is hidden in great fullness within.
God’s Word is always new and alive.
The Simple Steps of Lectio Divina
To enter into the “inexhaustible freshness ofGod’s word”, set aside a minimum of ten minutes to pray with Lectio Divina. This will allow you to really soak up the words you are praying with in Scripture. You can start by choosing a passage that intrigues you, or you could start with the Gospel of the day. The Gospels are a great place to start because it is where we hear Jesus’ words directly. Daily Mass readings can be found here.
1. Lectio (Reading)
First read through the passage and try to understand what the text is saying.
What word or phrase stands out to you?
2. Meditatio (Meditation/Reflection)
Read through the passage a second time, but this time more slowly. Pay close attention to the word or phrase which stood out to you during your first reading of the passage. Then, meditate on what Jesus is saying to you.
Read through the passage a third and final time and at an even slower pace. Really place yourself in the scene of the Scripture passage.
3. Oratio (Prayer)
This time is for praying with the passage you chose to read, specifically with the word or phrase that jumped out at you.
Ask the Lord how He wants you to use what He has shown you, and offer Him a prayer of thanksgiving.
4. Contemplatio (Contemplation)
Use your final few minutes to contemplate what the Lord revealed to you and spend this time basking in His love.
Perhaps use this time to journal.
Additional Resources for Daily Spiritual Inspiration
One of my favorite guides for prayer is the Magnificat. This monthly publication guides the reader along the liturgical seasons by providing daily content applying to the daily Mass readings and feast days. The portions of the Magnificat which I read each day include the daily Mass readings and the daily meditation.
The daily meditations are written by Saints, great spiritual writers, and contemporary authors ranging from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to a mother who lost her daughter in a school shooting.
It also offers morning and evening prayers which draw from the Liturgy of the Hours, essays on the lives of the Saints, and commentaries on sacred art.
Blessed is She’s Rooted Study
This study book on the Catechism includes seven separate studies written by seven different authors. These studies range from three to eight sessions and each session is intended to be one meeting.
Sessions include a summary of the Catechism’s teaching on the topic, Scripture passages, a short reflection from the author, and questions for reflection. The Scripture passages would be a great place to start with Lectio Divina!
Topics include the Virtues, Ways to Pray, and the Seven Sacraments. You could go through the study on your own, or gather a group of friends or parishioners to join you.
We All Need Spiritual Inspiration
Saint Ignatius of Loyola frequently speaks of the reality of both consolation and desolation. He says that we can all expect to experience times of desolation. Yet in these times we must resist the temptation of the devil who is using such times to try his best to lure us into despair.
In times of spiritual dryness, know that you are not alone. In such a time, call on the intercession of Saint Teresa of Calcutta who experienced spiritual desolation for much of her life. Despite her struggle, she reminds us that Jesus is near to us. She writes:
Just keep the lamp burning and you will always see him. Keep on filling the lamp with all these little drops of love, and you will see how sweet is the Lord you love.
No matter where you are on your journey, the Lord wants to bring you in deeper. He is near to you.
How do you find spiritual inspiration?
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