Day 7: Contemplative Reading

December 4, 2021

Bible – still life, Van Gogh

I love contemplation. And, I really love reading. When I have done contemplative reading of the Bible, it seems to be especially gifted with Godly presence.

I have several books on prayer that I have used, and prayed through. They have been marvelous helps to me, in my journey with God through these different kinds of prayer, meditation and contemplation. One of my favorite go-to books for contemplative reading, lectio divina and Ignatian prayer is The Word is Very Near You, a not-so-recent book by Episcopal priest Fr. Martin L. Smith. As he introduces the whole idea of meditation on Scripture, he mentions the “image of feeding on Christ and taking in the nourishment of the life-giving word…the prophets had vision in which they were given books to eat.” [1]

I can just imagine Ezekiel having his vision of eating the scroll that tastes just like honey. And, Psalms 119 and 34 both talk about God’s word being even sweeter than honey. To my joy, I have experienced this! I’ve used Fr. Smith’s book on a regular basis, a large number of times over the past twenty years. As I have followed his step-by-step instructions, I have felt stories, parables and other (more visual) sections of the Bible come to life when I listened to his directions and read the Bible passages aloud. I have been blessed by Smith’s book and by his suggestions, countless times. (Yes, I am a fan-girl.)

By this time, I suspect you realize that I love Psalm 119, too. Every verse of this long, long psalm has a mention of God’s Word. Descriptions like “hiding Your word in my heart,” “I am a stranger on earth,” “my soul is weary with sorrow,” and “the earth is filled with Your love” – all poetic, and all so poignant. I can ruminate on any one of these verses for a long time!

Just knowing that God is present with me, as I am reading, can be a stunning realization. (Really and truly.) I hope and pray you can experience this sweetness of contemplative reading, too.

My sweet Lord, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the poetic descriptions and turns of phrase I find in the Scriptures – in both the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament. I experience You through Your Word so readily. I realize that different people experience You in different ways. Help all of us to truly be encouraged to pick up Your Word and read it on a regular basis. Thank You for the Bible.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Smith, Martin L., The Word Is Very Near You (Cowley Publications: Cambridge MA: 1989), 115-16.

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chaplaineliza

Elizabeth has been involved: - as pastor at St. Luke's Christian Community Church, Morton Grove, Illinois - in various ministry and prayer-related activities - as a commissioned member in the Federation of Christian Ministries - holds a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary - holds a Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling in Illinois (IAODAPCA) Elizabeth has ministered at churches, care centers and retirement communities. Her spiritual and theological training, experience and natural less-anxious presence allow her to bring strength and comfort to persons in need. Elizabeth is also a daughter and sister, a wife and mother, has four healthy, curious and strong-minded children in their teens, twenties, and thirties, and a loving husband who works as a senior editor at a trade publication in Chicago.

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