The Bible and Prayer
Feb. 12, 1995
Brother John Raymond
A great way to pray is to read the Gospels. You can use a verse
or a chapter to pray about or meditate upon. Each day we should read
Sacred Scripture. We should ponder it in our hearts. The young people
in Medjugorje tell us that once they saw Our Lady cry as she said,
"They have forgotten the Bible."
Let's make Bible-reading a daily part of our prayer time. It
is the word of God. It is the Living Word. By taking the time to read
at least a chapter every day we will be nourished and grow in our
spiritual life. Some people are put off, saying they can't understand
the Bible, or they hear it enough in Church or that Catholics
shouldn't try to interpret the Bible on their own. Let's try to answer
We can grow in our understanding of the Bible by prayer, by
reading passages over and over. We can seek help from books that
explain the Bible in a true and honest way. Books that are written by
those who truly believe the Bible is the Word of God. Too many, today,
try to explain away the Bible as filled with myths and fables. C.S.
Lewis, a great Christian Apologist, had something to say about people
who claim that there are fables in the Holy Bible. He asked how many
fables these Biblical scholars had read. He explained that he didn't
doubt their scriptural learning but he questioned their understanding
of fables! He, as a professor of literature, said he had spent his
life reading countless fables. He also said that the passages in the
Bible that were called myths or fables were not. They didn't fit the
form of that type of literature.
Sometimes the best help to understanding the Bible is found in
books which deal with Jewish customs, plants of the bible, geography,
etc. They give us the setting. Another great help to understanding
the Bible is to realize that not everything in our English Bibles are
translated correctly. Sometimes we aren't given the right equivalent
Sometimes we miss the humor. According to our Biblical scholar
and hermit friend Brother Anthony a very misunderstood passage is
where Our Lord seemed to refer to the Canaanite woman as a little pup
(The Greek doesn't say dog.) We miss two things. One is a pun. She
was of the tribe of Caleb which means "dog." The other is a joke about
Our Lord's own tribe. The tribe of David was called the mongrel tribe.
(Mongrel means "mixed breed." David's grandmother, Ruth was a
Mohibite, not a Hebrew. Therefore the Davidic tribe was a mix of two
blood lines, Pagan and Jewish.) It was as if an Irishman said "I
can't help you because you're Irish."
Though we hear the Bible at Mass on Sundays or during the week
it's still good to read it at home. You can read other passages. Or
re-read the passages you've heard at Mass. Or read the passages before
or after those used as readings at Mass.
Finally, it's true that the Church interprets Sacred Scripture
for us. The Bible is truly from the Church. The Church decided which
books are canonical (inspired.) The Church existed before the New
Testament. Scholars tell us that it wasn't until about the year 50
A.D. that the books of the New Testament began to be written. Also,
they were written within the Church. So the Bible is given its
interpretation within the Church aided by learned biblical scholars
and the Holy Spirit.
But as we read Sacred Scripture we can find what, as the
Quakers say, "speaks to our condition" - Passages that speak to us or
help us with particular problems or decisions. That is one of the
great reasons for daily Bible reading - to receive Bible guidance for
our lives, to live more Christ-centered lives.