I want to share two ways I am relationshipping (yes, that’s a made-up word and a good one) with God through prayer and scripture that helps keep me vitally interested in both practices.
PRAYER PRACTICE: Ask, Review, Give Thanks
In the 1600’s a Spaniard named Ignatius suggested we pray by asking for a grace from God. In other words, we ask for a specific gift from God. Gifts are a sign of love. To ask for a grace then is to ask for love.
Since being widowed, here is a GRACE / GIFT I ask for daily: “Lord, today, give me courage and strength.” Good prayer.
The question: So how do I know if I am receiving the grace I ask for this day?
The answer: I review my day to see where I exhibited courage, where I was strong.
Reviewing my day is called EXAMEN prayer. When I NOTICE courage and strength, I give thanks. How could giving thanks to a good God NOT give us joy?
Want to stop boring prayers? Discern the one thousand and one ways God is answering them.
Now it’s your turn: What is the specific grace you desire? Ask. Review. Then make sure you let God know by thanking him. A simple “thank you” suffices. And maybe throw in a “I sure love you.”
SCRIPTURE PRACTICE: Read Our Everyday into It and Ask Questions
As a young Christian, I was taught several ways to approach Scripture: as history, as theology, as doctrine, as law, as ethics, as literature, and so on. Each approach had its own set of rules and demanded thoughtful care.
And here is what I discovered. That something was missing in these approaches. And that was me, my everyday life, which is so everydayish, a few moments of great ecstasy followed by long bouts of plodding.
And no matter how much I read scripture with the approaches I mentioned above, my days remained — well, they remained everydayish. And that’s because my everyday is not full of theological and doctrinal certainties, scriptural history lessons, grappling with ethics and the different uses of its literary styles. Rather, my life is this:
How do I learn humility in this situation?
If God gives wealth, how do I steward it today?
What decision should I make about this?
What would it look like for me to quiet myself in God’s love at this time?
I suggest we read our everyday into scripture and ask questions of it.
I like to do this particularly with Jesus in the gospels. I take something I am going through and ask Jesus if this was similar to what he learned.
If I am reading scripture at the time, I use the passage I am in, and start dialoguing with Jesus. If I am not reading scripture at the time – let’s say I am cooking and think of something in my life – I ask Jesus to remind me of a time he might have encountered the same thing.
Sometimes Jesus says to me what he said to Martha: “Fran, is this just a distraction? Why is this bothering you so much?”
Sometimes Jesus reminds me of what he said to his disciples: “Fran, why don’t you go meditate on birds and flowers. I might have something to teach you from them.”
Want to stop boring scripture reading? Then approach it with your everyday life and ask questions of it to discover how important your life is to God and how much he loves you.
Now it’s your turn: Do you want to begin this practice? Then I suggest you do it first with someone(s) else in order to see how others do it. It helps normalize your life. Do you want to grow the practice? Then plan to share what you think you are learning / hearing with someone else. To share is to reinforce the truths you are learning.
Psst. Just for fun, watch this youtube clip.