John Wesley wrote to John Trembath in 1760, "Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, and a petty, superficial preacher." Don't be petty and don't trifle away your days.
I believe Wesley was correct, but on Sunday I extended his word of counsel far beyond the preacher's in the room. These words are true for every person who has uttered the prayer asking Jesus to be Lord of their life. Reading from the Bible each day, or close to it, is required of those who are striving to be like Christ...which is what the very name Christian means.
A classical spiritual practice, grounded in the Word of God, has become the way I begin most of my days. It is called lectio divina, and is available to every person I know. As an indication of the small number of items needed to get started, I brought in the end table and lamp from the front room of our home; it doesn't take much! A place to read and reflect, a Bible, and possibly a devotion guide to help you get stared are all that is required. As for time, I sometimes read and pray for 12 minutes and other times an hour passes. It honestly depends on my day and how I am led.Father Luke Dysinger offers this concise method of practicing lectio divina:
- Read. Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today.” Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen, to seek him in silence.
- Ponder. Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self.
- Pray. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have discovered during your experience of meditation and found within your heart.
It is my deep prayer that this model, once practiced by every Christian in the world, would draw you closer to His Presence. Grace and Peace, Scott