Before starting your daily readings, begin with prayer. Otherwise, we are treating the Bible as if it was only a human document. The God who gave us Sacred Scripture must open our understanding to comprehend it, and our wills to believe it — and to obey it.
Prayer of St. John Chrysostom
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart that I may hear your word,
and understand and do your will, for I am a sojourner upon the Earth.
Hide not your commandments from me, but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of your Law.
Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of your wisdon.
On you do I set my hope, O my God, that you shall enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of your knowledge; not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them;
That in reading the lives and sayings of the Saints I may not sin, but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification, for the salvation of my soul, and the inheritance of life everlasting.
For you are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from you comes every good deed and every gift.
Lord, inspire me to read your Scriptures and to meditate upon them day and night. I beg you to give me real understanding of what I read, that I in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet, I know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in your graceful love. So I ask that the words of Scripture may also be not just signs on a page, but channels of grace into my heart. Amen. (Origen, 184-253 AD)
—Bookmark used by Holy Name of Jesus Bible Study in Minnesota
Indulgence that was granted by Pope Leo XIII in 1898 to all the faithful who “shall read for at least a quarter of an hour the books of the Sacred Scripture with the veneration due to the Divine Word and as spiritual reading, an indulgence of 300 days.” (Preces et Pia opera, 645.)
Bible Study Prayers
It is good to read a few verses from the Bible daily. Before reading the Bible, we need to pray for the blessings of the Holy Spirit so that we may comprehend the Word of God fully. The Word of God is so powerful as to remove all darkness and bondages from our lives. We need to believe firmly in the Word of God so that our lives may be transformed.
Father, anoint me with your Holy Spirit, so that as I read your eternal word, your word may penetrate my whole being and transform me. Grant me the blessing to be a faithful disciple in believing the Word of God and that I may be a light shining upon all who are in darkness. Amen
10 Ways to Study and Pray With The Bible AUG. 27, 2010 (http://marysaggies.blogspot.com) – I am commonly asked how a Catholic might start reading or praying with Sacred Scripture. Therefore, I decided to introduce you to a range of different ways to read, study, and pray with the Bible. I hope you find it helpful.
These ten methods are not the only ways to study and pray with Scripture, but merely some of the most popular ways.
6 POPULAR WAYS OF STUDYING SACRED SCRIPTURE1 – Read and pray with the Lectionary.Many Catholics, including my family, like to read the Scriptures they will hear in the Liturgy of The Word before and/or after they attend Mass. Some subscribe to periodicals that make it easier for them to have the readings and may also include mediations on the readings. These include, The Magnificat, The Word Among Us, and Living Faith.
2 – Big Picture StudyThere are some very nice resources that will help you get the “big picture” of the story of salvation. One of the best resources, though it is very expensive, is The Great Adventure series by Jeff Cavins. We do have this series here at St. Mary’s, but do not keep it in the library, due to the expense of having to replace it if it isn’t returned. Other resources include some nice courses from St. Paul’s Center for Biblical Theology.
3 – In-Depth Study With CommentariesThere are many good commentaries that can help you study one book of The Bible at a time. Maybe you have an interest in the Psalms, Revelation, or Romans. While this can be a more expensive way to study the Bible, but you can find most of my recommendations below in St. Mary’s Library. With this kind of study you can get in-depth study into language, cross-references, culture, etc. Some of my favorite series of in-depth studies include the Navarre Bible, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (only New Testament has been released so far), and the Sacra Pagina series.
4 – Thematic StudyThematic studies will focus on a certain theme (e.g. Men’s Bible study, social justice Bible study, Bible study on patience, Marian Bible study) and bring together the different passages that focus on that issue. Many Catholic publishers have various kinds of thematic studies. We have a wide-variety in our library.
5 – Cover-to-Cover StudyI don’t necessarily recommend this method of reading The Bible, especially for those that aren’t very familiar with Sacred Scriptures. This is because many people get bogged down in some of the Old Testament books that have difficult passages or less interesting parts. There are a number of resources that can give you a 1, 2, or 3 year plan to read the entire Bible. One good one is from the Coming Home Network which give Catechism passages as well.
6 – Use The Four Senses and Three Criteria for Interpretation Given By The ChurchThese can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The four senses are:
1. Literal sense – is to understand what the human author intended to teach and what his audience understood. Does NOT mean “word-for-word” interpretation. We consider – language / culture / type of literature / human authors understanding of world, relationships, etc.
Three layers to the Spiritual sense:
2. Allegorical sense -Some call this Typology. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, which looks toward the New and should be read in light of it.
3. Moral sense – Personal – we have to apply the text to our lives. Thus, what does this passage mean for my life? How should I live in light of this truth?
4. Anagogical sense – Also personal, but a more spiritual sense, not active – but contemplative. Points us to heaven.
The Three Criteria for Interpretation are (CCC 111-114):
1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture.”
2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church.”
3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. – See with eyes of faith
4 POPULAR WAYS OF PRAYING WITH SACRED SCRIPTURE1 – Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina means “Divine (or holy) reading”. There are several different methodologies to Lectio Divina, but the basics include reading the Scripture passage slowly several times, quiet meditation, response in prayer, and quiet reflection and rest in God’s presence. More can be found here.
2 – Imagination / Understanding / LoveFirst, use your imagination to place yourself in the scene described in the passage you are reading. Then try to understand how this passage applies to you. Then move your heart to love God more.
3 – Pray / Read / Reflect / ResolveFollowing this simple formula we start to try and conform our lives to Sacred Scripture. We start with a prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to inspire us. Next, there should be slow reading of the passage. We then spend a good time reflecting on the passage and finally we make a resolution to draw closer to God in whatever way we are drawn to.
4 – Praying / Singing The PsalmsThe Psalms were once memorized by the Israelites as a devotion to Yahweh. We also can pray the Psalms by singing them or praying with them through recitation and meditation on them.