Seven Spiritual Practices for Busy People
I had a seminary professor who regularly advised, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. We were busy seminarians with days and nights jam-packed with studies, work, ministry, family, and many tasks that made it easy to miss out on the “main thing” in life. David stands out as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who made spending time with God the main thing in his life:
One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple
The “main thing” David pursued in life was to live each day present to God’s presence with him, and to delight in Him. David was no less busy than the 21st Century American, but was devoted to keeping the main thing the main thing. In these “Seven Spiritual Practices for Busy People” we are exploring ways to daily experience God’s presence and power. We have looked at “The Daily God Hunt” and “Palms Down, Palms Up”. The spiritual practice I want to pass on to you today is “Praying Scripture”.
Practice Three: Praying Scripture
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:5-8 (David)
There is a powerful way of praying and meditating on Scripture that goes back to David’s time and beyond. The ancient Church called this way of praying Scripture, Lectio Divina, or “Sacred Reading”. I call it simply “Praying Scripture”. It is a spiritual practice that combines the power of God’s Word with the power of prayer.
Praying Scripture comes in four steps, READ, REFLECT, RESPOND, and REST.
- READ: Read slowly, two or three times, a short Scripture text. As you read, listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to you through the words. Listen for a word or phrase that especially stands out to you.
- REFLECT: Reflect on what you have just read, paying special attention to the word or phrase that stood out for you. Meditate on those words, picturing the images, and feeling the scene. Allow God’s Word to speak to your life.
- RESPOND: Respond to God’s Word to you in this moment. Talk with Him about the thoughts, feelings, and questions raised in your reading and reflecting. Enter into a real dialogue with God’s Spirit as you talk with Him and He talks with you.
- REST: Rest in God’s presence for a few moments. Just be present to Him. Let yourself experience the “rest” that Jesus promises. This aspect of rest is often overlooked in the times people spend with God. The old monks called this rest “lap time with God”. We just let ourselves be with God. No need here for any words, any effort, any trying to please. Just “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). Conclude Lectio Divina by praying the Lord’s Prayer, or your own prayer of thanks to God.
For today, why not enter into Praying Scripture by taking Psalm 23 (see below), a psalm of David, using the four steps of READ, REFLECT, RESPOND, and REST. For tomorrow, you could stay with Psalm 23, or go on to another psalm or brief gospel passage.
Grace and peace,
Psalm 23 (New International Version)
A psalm of David
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD