In the last several posts, we have looked at ways to keep Scripture "living and active." Here are a few last ideas. Please feel free to share your own tips in the "Comments" section below!
Tip #3: Pick out a word or phrase.
A classic technique, used in some methods of Lectio Divina, is to read or listen to Scripture with your heart open to a particular sacred word or phrase. The idea is that in a given reading, there may be one thing that really stands out and has a special meaning for you. For example, in Psalm 23, perhaps the word “restores” catches your attention, or the phrase “darkest valley.” Then ask yourself why this phrase means something to you in the context of the passage as a whole and in the context of your life. Hopefully, this reflection will ignite a conversation between you and God. This technique helps you pay attention to the scriptures you are reading or hearing because you are looking for or listening for that special word or phrase. This is a nice technique to use when listening to the Scriptures at Mass when, let’s face it, our minds sometimes wander.
Tip #4: Take the time and energy to apply it to your life.
We always listen to or read Scripture with the intention of applying it to our lives. We know that if the message just sits on the pages of the Bible, or just rattles around in our brains, it doesn’t do us (or anyone else) much good. But sometimes we don’t follow through – we don’t really give ourselves the time and the quiet to process what we’ve read or heard. We don’t do the mental and spiritual exercise of making it real and meaningful. This is the hard work that allows God’s Word to bear fruit.
In the parish where I used to work, we had a summer prayer series exploring different prayer methods. One week we discussed praying with Scripture, and I encouraged the participants to try it at home during the week. The next time we met, I asked how it went. One parishioner shared a challenging experience. She had decided to pray over the Mass readings of the day – an excellent idea. The problem was that as she eagerly read the first reading, ready to ponder and pray, she quickly became discouraged. The reading was about Moses killing the Egyptian (Ex. 2:11-15). What to do with a Bible hero committing murder? How to apply it to one’s life? All I could say is that sometimes we have to get creative. God’s Word is living and active all right – it is full of darkness and sin as well as light and love. We talked about looking below the surface to consider the motivation behind Moses’ act – his love for his people that mirrored God’s own love. While this did not necessarily justify what Moses did, it did provide a lot to pray about. There is also the fruitful notion that even Moses – arguably the greatest prophet of the Old Testament – could be a hot-head. Some Scriptures are difficult to apply to our lives. Doing so requires practice, patience, and sometimes, spiritual creativity!
I’m sure you all have your own ideas about how to keep Scripture living and active. Please feel free to share them with others by leaving a comment below!