Listening to God – Fuel for Ministry? is a book about silence and contemplation, including an exegesis on works written about Lectio Divina.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
John Draper has written a book that brings together the typically monastic practice of lectio divina and the life of a parish priest and worshipping community.
Just another book prayer? What is distinctive about John Draper's approach is that he anchors prayer in the life of the community. It is not an individual lifestyle choice that we can take or leave, but 'fuel for ministry', as the title says.
Lectio divina or holy reading is a way of engaging with Scripture in four stages: reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation. Draper sets it in its historical, monastic context, but also stresses that its purpose is conversion of life (one of the Benedictine vows).
He notes that many of the newer forms of Christian living, whether Fresh Expressions or 'new monasticism', place a high value on contemplative silence and the ruminative encounter with Scripture found in lectio divina and also in saying the psalms in daily prayer.
These are communal ways of expressing the personal practice of silent meditation and thereby receiving the scriptural text, 'listening' to it, at a deep level of the heart.
Draper argues that silence and listening to the word of God are essential for ministers of religion, both clergy and Readers, in order not to be overwhelmed by the busyness of their lives. Deep listening and attentiveness is essential to pastoral care, and is fostered through lectio divina. So, he concludes, the disciplined life of prayer and lectio which chartacterises monastic living can be transplanted to the parish community too.
This short and well-researched introduction could with profit be read alongside the bestselling 'Contemplative Minister' by Ian Cowley.
My only niggle is that it would have helped to spell out clearly the distinction between meditative silent prayer, when you are thinking, and contemplative silent prayer, when you can lay aside and simply wait on God.
Otherwise, the book is an important reminder that God calls us to 'be still and know that I am god' (Psalm 46, and that this is resouces us for our active discipleship. ~ Revd Ruth Tuschling, Portsmouth Diocesan Newspaper
“Rootedness in prayer is fundamental to Christian ministry. This book by an experienced and thoughtful parish priest helpfully explores the possibility that the prayer life of a parish might be enriched by priest and people adopting monastic patterns of listening to God in silence and in scripture.” ~ The Rt Revd Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth