The Book of Common Prayer invites us to the observance of a holy Lent by reminding us "of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith." [BCP p. 265]  This Lent, we offer a series of reflections on various forms of personal prayer.  The title of our series is "Lord, Teach Us to Pray". 
The Gospels tell us that Jesus was a man of prayer.  Prior to beginning his public ministry, Jesus went to the desert for a long time to commune with God in prayer.  During his public ministry, Jesus regularly prayed with others and he often spent time alone in prayer.  As busy as Jesus was, he made sure to take time to pray.  His dying words, spoken from the cross, were words of prayer. 
I've always found it enlightening that Jesus' disciples did not ask him to teach them how to perform a miracle or how to preach an effective sermon.  Rather, they asked him "Lord, teach us to pray..." [Luke 11:1] 
These Lenten Reflections are the fruit of a collaborative effort by clergy and lay members of St. Paul's.  Our hope is that they will bring a fresh perspective to your personal prayer life and encourage you to try new forms of prayer.  We hope that they will provide you with some spiritual nourishment as you journey through Lent. 
Reflection from Fr. David Angelica
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray..."    
(Saint Luke 11:1)
As Lent begins this Ash Wednesday, we are once again encouraged to set apart time of prayer, meditation, worship and fasting. Jesus taught us that prayer should be the foundation of our Spiritual Life, and that, together with times of prayer, we should seek out additional opportunities to deepen our Spiritual Life. I would like to offer two opportunities for all of us to follow, to augment our prayer life this Lent. They are Lectio divina and Visio divina. Both Lectio divina and Visio divina are ways to meditate: Lectio using a text from Scripture or a prayer or some other Spiritually-based passage; Visio using an icon, an image, or Spiritually-based picture.

Lectio .
After choosing a text, sit quietly for a brief time of preparation, trying to block out all obstacles which keep you from focusing on the text. The first step is called Lectio itself, where you read the sacred text and select a word or phrase that you feel is special to you right now; the second step is called Meditatio, where you read the text again, listening for what images, feelings and memories are stirring--welcoming them in and then savoring and resting into this experience. The third step is called all Oratio, when you read the text again and formulate your thoughts into prayer, speaking that prayer either out loud or in the silence of your heart. You will take this prayer with you for the next week. The fourth step is called Contemplatio, where you rest in the Presence of God and focus more deeply on all that you have experienced, felt and said.
When you are ready, slowly bring yourself back. Stand up. Stretch. Go for a walk. Take a break.

One of the main aspects of Visio divina is learning really to "see," to perceive, "to see the Image of the Hand of God," everywhere around us. Leonardo da Vinci said, "true art is knowing how to see." Also, "eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare" (J. Oswald Sanders).
  1. Choose an icon (image).
  2. Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
  3. Now, let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so.
  4. Consider the following questions:---What emotions does this image evoke in you?---What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?---Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire. 
  5. Now, offer your prayers to God, resulting from a final time of silence.
As Ash Wednesday approaches, I hope you will attempt to incorporate these two Spiritual Disciplines, that your Lenten journey will imprint upon your heart and soul, a deeper knowledge of Jesus as Savior and Lord.

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