Bible Study on Lectio Divina: Learning to Pray in the Scriptures by Stephen J. Binz
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
As I mentioned before, Stephen Binz is a strong proponent of Lectio Divina, the ancient practice of studying and praying using the scriptures. Learn to Pray in the Scriptures is part of Binz’s series of Bible studies, which I perhaps prefer to his guides to the liturgical season, although I like those too.
By focusing on different topics such as the Creed, Mass, Sacraments, or Prayer, Binz shows where they are in the Bible, gives context for a full appreciation, and helps readers learn about deeper prayer. as found in the stages of lecto divina: Listening, Understanding, Reflecting, Praying and Acting.
I have used many Bible studies, but Learn to Pray in the Scriptures is one of my favorites. Binz shows different kinds of prayers by going through the Bible to show the different characters who use them in different circumstances. I felt like I had learned to understand each particular person whose prayers were highlighted. It’s only natural after considering them extensively, but it’s partly the result of Binz’s thoughtful comments and prompting questions.
Binz often brought up views that had never occurred to me, such as the comment below that prayer doesn’t have to be theologically correct. I had never thought of such a thing before and it made me wonder if I was being a little too “right” trying to talk to God “right” rather than just trying to have an honest conversation. , no matter where it takes us.
I also greatly appreciated the overview of prayer which covered biblical forms of prayer and how to use them today, the cultivating disposition for prayer, and the characteristics of prayer as seen in the lives of heroes of Israel, of the ancient prophets, of the life of Jesus and Following. Suddenly I was thinking about prayer and how to converse with God in a whole new way.
The excerpts below only scratch the surface of the treasures found in this book. All scriptures are quoted fully in the book, so you don’t need any further references, although I haven’t included them below.
Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom
In establishing the covenant, God had promised to make Abraham a blessing to all the peoples of the earth. This bold intercessory prayer teaches us what it means to pray humbly but confidently in the context of a covenant relationship with God. We have the same opportunity to intercede before God for the peoples of the world.
… Abraham first chooses the number fifty as a figure of exchange: save the city in the name of fifty righteous. He deliberately chose a small number, thinking that in typical Middle Eastern haggling style, God would choose a much larger number, and then they would eventually meet somewhere in the middle. But Abraham’s strategy is nullified by God’s immediate acceptance of his offer. Lowering the offer to forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and finally ten, Abraham discovers that God is far more merciful than he had imagined.
The Prophet’s Lamenting Prayer for Israel
Since prayer is conversational and emotional, it need not be theologically correct. What are some of the outrageous questions and statements found in this prayer? How does this kind of talk enrich my prayer?
The Prayers of Christian Believers
Acts 1:12-14 / Acts 4:23-31
Like the early Christians in Jerusalem, continue to let the words you pray become the life you live.
• Rather than asking God to spare them hardship, early Christians prayed only for the courage to face it and continue to speak God’s word boldly. For what purpose should I pray for boldness? What can I do today to claim the strength and courage that God offers me?
I received this book for review a very long time ago and I’m sorry for only re-reading it now. However, that doesn’t change my enthusiasm for this book. I loved it from the start.