In the last issue of this article it was my desire to encourage my readers to make the reading of the New Testament an essential part of their lives. I suggest, in particular, the New Testament and, the Psalms from the Old Testament, because I believe they best help us to develop the spirituality that is coherent with our worship. While many suggest also the Old Testament, I find that they are more difficult to utilize especially when the intent is to find more ways in which to live in Christ. I would also suggest that a novice begin with the Gospels instead of the Epistles, with the exception of the three Epistles of St. John. The letters of Paul are a little more difficult to understand and, therefore, may not be as easily used to bring us to prayer.
A priest at Gonzaga University in Spokane has developed a helpful scheme for learning to pray with scripture which he calls the Five P’s. I think that he offers good hints for using the Scriptures for prayer.
The first “P” stands for Pick A Passage. There are ways of finding a good passage for prayer. One way is to read one of the gospels, beginning with chapter one, verse one, and using just a few lines until we come to a resting place, a passage that captures our attention, or seems to speak to us. Put a marker there. The next day continue from where you left off.
One of the saints found that by just flipping open the Gospels randomly and pointing at a passage was even more inspirational for using the Gospels as a source of our prayer.
My suggestion is to try several different ways to pick a passage to reflect on. Believe in the Holy Spirit. He will guide you in your desire to spiritually grow and bring you to the right text. This is a simple way to help build your trust and hope in God. Believe that He will guide you in your honest efforts to become more united to Him.
The main thing is to not pick too big of a passage. One verse or a couple of verses are enough. Then, simply read the verse(s) and ask yourself this question: What can I derive from this passage that will help me lead my life today? If it is a story, ask yourself: What can this story tell me about life (e.g., if it is about curing a blind man, what blind spots do you have in your life? Prejudice?) Don’t think about what the correct interpretation of the story is. Think about how you can relate the story to your own life, right now! That’s what is important!