Jesus, Prayer and Lectio Divina
The Jesus Prayer (Greek: Η Προσευχή του Ιησού, i prosefchí tou iisoú) or “The Prayer” (Greek: Η Ευχή, i efchí̱ – literally “The Wish”) is a short, formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated within the Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox churches:
Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν.
Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
The prayer has been widely taught and discussed throughout the history of the Eastern Churches. It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as Hesychasm (Greek: ἡσυχάζω, hesychazo, “to keep stillness”). The prayer is particularly esteemed by the spiritual fathers of this tradition (see Philokalia) as a method of opening up the heart (kardia) and bringing about the Prayer of the Heart (Καρδιακή Προσευχή). The Prayer of The Heart is considered to be the Unceasing Prayer that the apostle Paul advocates in the New Testament.
My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.
In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.
Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: lectio, medidatio, oratio, contemplatio: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.
The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus’ statement in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you” an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc.
But in Lectio Divina rather than “dissecting peace”, the practitioner “enters peace” and shares in the peace of Christ.In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.
Lectio Divina has been likened to “Feasting on the Word.” The four parts are first taking a bite (Lectio), then chewing on it (Meditatio). Next is the opportunity to savor the essence of it (Oratio). Finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (Contemplatio). In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.