Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina
If you’re looking to learn how to get the most out of prayer, this book is indispensable.
As St. Augustine notes, “When we pray, we speak to God; when we read Scripture, God speaks to us.” The key to enriching our prayer is learning the language of Christianity, and the most effective way to learn the language of Christianity is an ancient technique known as lectio divina (“divine reading”).
In these pages, you will learn:
- How God speaks directly to each of us in Scripture.
- How to overcome the obstacles to a consistent and fruitful prayer life.
- Why the fourfold method of lectio divina leads us directly into the heart of contemplative prayer.
- Strategies for reading — and praying — the Bible fruitfully.
- What Christian meditation is and how it differs from non-Christian approaches.
- How everyone — not just saints and mystics — can truly reach mystical union with God.
In this succinct book, Catholic theologian and biblical scholar Dr. Tim Gray walks you through the Bible and the wisdom of the saints to reveal the practical steps of this great treasure of our Tradition. Learning the simple steps of lectio divina will provide a practical and effective way for you to enhance your prayer life through the power of God’s Word.
Submitted on 11-07-2012 Stuart
I read another one of Tim Gray's books this year, Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible, so I knew I was going to get another gem, and I was not disappointed. Hopefully, you're not like me and you have a great prayer life. If you are like me though, then you need all the help you can get! Like others before me, and probably after me, I felt that I always talk to God, but never hear Him answer. Sure I can see answers to prayers (be they yes or no), but I never felt like I was getting a one-on-one response. Arrogant to expect that, I know. Well, this book changed my whole way of thinking about prayer!
Lectio Divina is a ladder traditionally involving four steps, but a fifth step was added in this book. The steps are Lectio (Reading), Meditatio (Meditation), Oratio (Prayer), Contemplatio (Contemplation), and in this book Operatio (Operation or Application in real life). Dr. Gray uses the example of a vineyard and making wine (like ancient monks used to do) as a comparison for Lectio Divina. Like winemaking, prayer requires many steps to produce a beautiful end result. He also repeatedly says in the book, "When you pray, you speak with God; when you read, God speaks to you." This was a game-changer for me. It seems so obvious, but we expect to hear the voice of God, like the voice of a person. In reality, we always hear the voice of God when we read the Bible.
Reading this book has left me thirsting for more (fitting analogy since he compares Lectio Divina to making wine). I know I will have to take baby steps in this beautiful practice, but I am eager to try it in this Year of Faith. I'm debating ordering the workbook that goes along with this book or finding other books that offer specifics passages and exercises in Lectio Divina. Despite not having a chapter at the end to get you started with, I still give this book 5 out of 5 stars as it explained a powerful prayer practice in language anyone can understand. So if you want a deeper prayer life and not just a one-sided monologue with God, go out and buy this book and you too can be on the path to a deeper prayer life.
Submitted on 06-25-2012 Jack Schull
Tim Gray does a fabulous job at opening up the practice of Lectio Divina for those seeking to connect with God through the Scriptures. He lays out some simple steps of this practice and provides some good illustrations and information for the reader to put into practice for themselves. I bought this book as a part of my study for an upcoming sermon and thoroughly enjoyed the read and research Gray provides. Recommended if you’d like to look at your prayer life from another angle and have another practice to help you connect with God through His Holy Scriptures. I’ve read other resources also, but this one unpacks this ancient practice well for a good introduction to Lectio Divina. Enjoy.
Submitted on 06-25-2012 R. Hacker
This book changed the way I see scripture. The tools that Dr. Gray explores have opened my eyes even more to the depth and beauty of the Holy Scripture. I highly recommend reading and re-reading this book to start your journey to a most indescribable spiritual experience with Holy Scripture.
Submitted on 06-25-2012 Cindy
Using Biblical excerpts and the wisdom of the saints, Dr. Tim Gray leads the reader through the steps of lectio divina (divine reading), allowing the reader to easily begin practicing this ancient method of praying Scripture. Dr. Gray’s rich examples, practical tips, and encouragement make lectio divina accessible to everyone. Even those already familiar with this practice will likely find new insights. With every page, I felt a growing desire to “take up and read” the Bible. My prayer life was enriched and I was able to overcome many obstacles that had plagued my prayer time. After reading this book, you will read (pray) Scripture in a whole new way, and you too will discover “the adventure of a life-giving dialogue with God”. If you have ever found prayer to be burdensome and dry, or found yourself wondering how to grow in your relationship with God, this book is for you.
Submitted on 06-25-2012 Emily Dragoumi
The author gives a very clear explanation of the four stages to Lectio Divina, and clarifies on the way some of the struggles we may be facing with our approach to prayer. He takes us through the four stages: Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio, and then Operatio, which he has added, because, as he says, this final step would have “simply been assumed by a medieval reader…” Reading it made me go back to my Bible, and start applying the four steps. During it, I found myself extremely encouraged, enlightened, and helped on the divine ladder to conversation and communion with God.
Submitted on 06-25-2012 Dr. Mary Healy, Professor of Scripture, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Whoever reads this wonderful little book will put to rest any thoughts that lectio divina is only for mystics, saints or scholars. Tim Gray shows in clear, practical steps how anyone who desires to can learn to read Scripture in conversation with the living God. This book shows the wisdom that can only come from long personal experience in praying with Scripture and teaching others to do so. I highly recommend it.
Submitted on 06-25-2012 Mark P. Shea, author: _Mary, Mother of the Son_
Dr. Tim Gray has done us all an invaluable service by making the riches of Lectio Divina available to the ordinary reader of Scripture. He is a master vintner who squeezes the grapes of the sacred page and helps us drink of the rich wine of God’s revelation.
Submitted on 12-05-2010 T. Arens
This book removed the scales from my eyes on prayer and the Sacred Scriptures. For me, it is a masterpiece in the way Dr. Tim Gray explains the the dialogue of prayer, the presence of God and providing the means to experience and receive God in our life – day by day – through the Living Word.
Dr. Tim Gray is a paradox insofar as he is very intelligent and highly educated and yet he is able to deliver lessons in a palatable, easy-to-receive manner. I own and utilize many of Dr. Gray’s works, all of which have enriched my spiritual journey by leading me, so simply and easily, into a deeper understanding of our gracious and loving God.