As part of Patricia’s “Experiments in Prayer and Meditation” class she has been creating weekly exercises. Next week she’ll be teaching about Lectio Divina, and offers this exercise to anyone who wants to engage with this ancient and beautiful prayer practice.
Experiments in Prayer and Meditation
Week 2 Experiment (October 8-14): Healing, Lectio Divina
Ideally, do this meditation once a day, at the same time of day, for about 20-30 minutes. However often you can get to it will be useful though.
This is an active and receptive way of praying that engages the mind and heart and the imagination. (See below for more information about this type of prayer.) Choose any story of Jesus doing a healing in the gospel. (See p. 2 for a list of some possible choices) It would be best to stick with the same story all week, but if you really feel the need to change to another at one point it’s fine. I wouldn’t advise switching more than once.
Find a quiet location in the house to do your meditation where you will not be disturbed. If you like, light a candle to invite in the grace of the divine to be with you, or to remind you of your openness and desire for that grace. Your intention to be open to grace and to acknowledge God’s presence with you will be valuable.
Go to the scripture and read your chosen story slowly and attentively once or twice.
Then close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, becoming settled and relaxed. Imagine yourself to be there at the time of the story. Perhaps you will feel you are one of the characters in the story – Jesus, an apostle, the one being heals, an onlooker. Imagine the story bit by bit in your mind. Imagine the details of what you would be seeing, hearing, smelling, perhaps tasting. What are you thinking and feeling? You may sense other things around you that are not named in the story, or other things may happen. Be very relaxed, open, and observant. Try to avoid judging, evaluating, or analyzing what comes up.
After 20 minutes or so, jot down whatever details you remember of your experience.
I originally learned this manner of prayer from Jesuits, and it is a form that comes from the founder of the Jesuit order – St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556). St. Ignatius is a remarkable teacher of many aspects of contemplative prayer, particularly in his most famous and valued work, The Spiritual Exercises. One of the gifts Ignatius gave us is a clearer understanding of the use of the imagination as a powerful tool in the soul’s journey with contemplative prayer. Here is a good article about Ignatius, including information about this particular type of lectio divina that we are using.https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/pray-with-your- imagination/
The article is from the Ignatian Spirituality website, which you may also find quite helpful in learning about Contemplative Prayer.
Jesus heals the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-47)
Jesus casts out an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23-28).
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:30-31, Luke 4:38-39) Jesus heals a leper (Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16)
Jesus heals the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5:13, Luke 7:1-10)
Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39) Jesus heals a paralytic (Matthew 9: 1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26)
Jesus heals a woman who touched his robe (Matthew 9-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48) Jesus opens the eyes of two blind men (Matthew 9: 27-31)
Jesus loosens the tongue of a man who could not speak (Matthew 9:32-38)
Jesus heals an invalid man at the pool called Bethesda (John 5:1-9)
Jesus restores a withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11)
Jesus heals the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30) Jesus heals a deaf and mute man (Mark 7:31-37)
Jesus opens the eyes of the blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)
Jesus heals a boy plagued by a demon (Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-21, Luke 9:37-43)
Jesus opens the eyes of a man born blind (John 9: 1-12 is the healing, the story continues to v. 38) Jesus heals a woman who had been afflicted eighteen years (Luke 13: 10-17)
Jesus heals a man of dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)
Jesus cleanses ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19)
Jesus heals blindness (Matthew 20: 29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 19:35-43)
Jesus restores the ear of the high priest’s servant (Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22: 50-51, John 18:10-11)