There are only two stories of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels — Luke’s and Matthew’s. For this prayer, we will be using lectio divina (praying with scripture) with Matthew’s nativity story.
When praying scripture, it is more important that you allow the scripture to speak to you than it is to intellectually understand it. There is a time and place for interpretation and historical context, but lectio divina is not about putting it all together and making sense of scripture, it’s about experiencing scripture as a living window to the Divine. Latin for “divine reading,” lectio divina is a Benedictine meditation with scripture.
- Read Matthew’s birth narrative through more than once. Notice any word, phrase or image that seems to resonate deeply within your heart.
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
- Let the word, phrase or image that resonates for you stay with you. Pray with that phrase. Use it like a mantra to breathe with.
- Spend a few minutes reflecting on the word, phrase or image. How does it connect with your life today? How does it connect with what is going on in the world today? What might God be saying to you in this word, phrase or image?
- Express to God your needs, hopes, desires and gratitude. Let this be a time of unbridled conversation with God.
- Sink into deep silence as you close.
- If you desire, write down your word, phrase or image and journal about your prayer experience.