Prayer Guide









How has your week gone? Was the Jesus Prayer a little easier? In my experience I have connected with the Jesus Prayer. It seemed to fit my lifestyle. I love the way it easily transitions into everyday life. I hope that you found peace even in the stresses of life by saying the Jesus Prayer.

If you are still struggling, hang in there. Prayer is not easy and it isn’t natural, although we were created to pray (having a personal relationship with God), sin has corrupted that relationship. The devil will continue to work on you. If he can't stop you from praying, he may try to make you conceited or arrogant about prayer. Listen to Jesus’ warning in Matt. 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.1

Jesus also warns of the thinking that you are better than others in Luke 18:9-14  To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”1

Deeper prayer and a closer relationship with God doesn’t make you better than anyone else or more saved. We are all sinners and deserve eternal damnation. A closer relationship with God helps us in our faith walk keeping us faithful and allowing us to feel and experience the joy of a faithful life. By knowing God’s will we can become all that God created us to be. We can lead a more fulfilling life. Many of our struggles are caused by wrestling with God’s will. If we know, understand and except His will for our lives it no longer is a burden but a vessel that caries us through life’s struggles.

The next prayer is called Lectio Divina (pronounced “Lec-tsee-oh Di-vee-nah”).

Starting Point: Confusion Avenue

Destination: Enlightenment Boulevard

Map of no words
Can you read this map and get to your destination? Which way is north? Where is Confusion Avenue? Words are important. Think of the state of confusion we would be in if we could not communicate. In fact without the Word of God we would not be here. John 1:1-3:In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.1

Through the Word, God spoke everything into being. As we read further John reveals that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” 2 Of course John is talking about Jesus. We can also read Hebrews 1:1-2 "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe."1

Jesus is the Word and the Word is still with us in the form of the Holy Bible. This brings us to the next prayer.

Lectio Divina, a Latin term meaning “divine reading” and describes a way of reading the Bible in which we slowly let go of our own will and open ourselves to hear God’s will. We read with the understanding that the Word of God is a living word in which the Spirit can fill us and we can hear the message of God to us personally. Reading, knowing and understanding scripture is the only way we can truly get to know God. St. Jerome states “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” And St. Augustine states, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” and St. Theresa of Avila points out that “All troubles of the Church, all evils in the world, flow from this source: that men do not by clear and sound knowledge and serious consideration penetrate into the truths of Sacred Scripture.” Martin Luther answered a question on the best way to study the Bible “That the Holy Scriptures cannot be penetrated by the study and talent is most certain. Therefore your first duty is to begin to pray…”3

“In Lectio Divina we leave the strict inner silence of contemplation and the Jesus Prayer behind and move into what can more properly be called meditation. We leave pure inaction and rest in God, and begin to become a little more active in our praying. We are still listening for God, but now we are listening for him especially in His Word, rather than beyond consciousness as before.”4

This style of prayer is typically confined to the slow reading of the Bible, both Old and New Testament. Unlike pure Bible study, we don’t read with the intent of obtaining information but we use the words as a means of contacting the living God. This can be very difficult for many Christians because we have been taught to read for memory or literal understandings, confining our experience to the mind. We often read with certain goals in mind, such as to read a certain number of chapters or finish a section before the next Bible study session. But in Lectio Divina we cannot place such restrictions on our time. This is not to say that the other ways of reading the Bible are bad, there is a time and a place for such reading and study. In this prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture we will go at the pace of God.

Fr. Mark Thibodeaux states “Scripture is perhaps the most important way that God communicated […] contemplative pray-ers consider Scripture their most valuable tool with which to pray and the primary way that God speaks to them in prayer”5
Prayer Time:
  1. In Lectio Divina the guiding ideal is not to learn more about God but to know Him personally. Much like the previous prayers we cannot learn Lectio Divina simply by reading about it, we must practice it in our daily prayer lives.
  2. Although this style of prayer can be used on any religious writings, for the purpose of this prayer study we will focus on praying the Psalms. Keep in mind any direction or knowledge gained or experienced during prayer should always be compared to Scripture in order to know if it comes from God. If it is contrary to Scripture it is not of God.
  3. In this style of prayer we will move into more active prayer. We will begin by centering as before and we should continue to use the Jesus Prayer throughout our day, but we will move out of these styles and begin listening to God through His Word.
  4. Remember we are not reading for speed or to reach a goal but at the pace of God. We will read slowly and deliberately, listening at each word and phrase.
  1. Before you begin prayerfully select the text which you will use. (for your convenience in order to help you get started and learn this style of prayer I have include some possible options as suggested by Rev Derek Cheek in his study on Lectio Divina)
  2. As before select a comfortable place to pray, preferably in the same position that you have found to be most comfortable, although you may need to change in order to be able to read.
  3. Remind yourself that God is already present with you in this place at this very moment, waiting to commune with you;
  4. Spend a few moments centering and using the Jesus Prayer to calm yourself and focus on God; (After you take your position slowly relax by breathing in through the nose and breathing out through your mouth letting go with each breath. Make sure your hands are open and relaxed. As you breathe slowly introduce your sacred word, and/or use the Jesus Prayer, repeating with each inward breath and each outward breath. Use the word to focus on God and His presence in and around you. Give all your being to God.)
  5. Read your text all the way through, very slowly and deliberately, noting any word or phrase which calls out to you;
  6. Re-read the passage especially listening for God to speak to you through the portions which appealed to you the first time (though another may grab you);
  7. Whenever you are captivated by a word or phrase, allow it to take you deeper into yourself, or toward God, and pray it to God in words and feelings;
  8. Rest in God who you know is with you, especially in His word.
  9. End your prayer time with the Lord’s Prayer and stillness.4
  1. You may return to the text often, or you may hear God almost immediately in a particular passage. Remember do not place expectations on your prayer time. Don’t box God in. He may give us direct directions or He may sit in stillness. We may hear God in one seemingly meaningless word or phrase or we may return to the passage over and over again hearing God in different words or phrases. He may not speak to us at all, but allow us to rest in Him during this time. Don’t be discouraged by your experience. The only goal that should be placed on this time is to spend more time in communion with God. Don't wish for more but focus on what you are given at this time. God knows what you need and what is best for you at that moment.
  2. The Psalms are not the only Scripture we can read for Lectio Divina. Don’t be afraid to move into reading other passages of the Bible. Remember don’t place goals to finish a chapter or book. Listen and follow God’s guidance as to what to read.
  3. Over time it is natural to understand that God is all around us. He is in all creation. He is an all encompassing God who can't be defined by a place or position. We can pray in the style of Lectio Divina with our own personal history by reflecting on things that have happened during the day or past week or even our life time. Ask yourself where is God leading me, what is He telling me in these experiences? We can also take this approach to other books, remembering that if it is contrary to God’s Word it is not of God.
  4. It is a good idea to write down your experiences so that you can look back on them to determine what is from God and what may have come from your own desires. It is also helpful to see God at work in your life. This will help you when you feel discouraged during your prayer time.
Practice this style of prayer for a full week. At the end of the week, move on to the next section. Follow the suggested options below.
1The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
2The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (John 1:14). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
3What Luther Says compiled by Ewald M. Plass copyright 1959
Contemplative Prayer Study lesson 3 by Rev. Derek Cheek
5Armchair Mystic by Fr. Mark Thibodeaux copy right 2001 page 76

Online Bible and Study Tools