May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an initiative that was first started over 60 years ago by Mental Health America. We’re sharing suggestions for different kinds of prayer that can support a strong spiritual practice and a healthy mental state.
(See our other posts on Mental Health & Saints and Mental Health & the Examen.)
Lectio Divina is a type of prayer in which we slowly read a passage from Scripture; it’s Latin for “divine reading.” By rooting prayer in God’s word, we can take comfort in knowing that He accompanies us on any journey, including strengthening our mental health.
With this prayer method, we pay close attention to what stands out to us in a passage, bringing our thoughts and emotions to God. It’s a way for us to spend intentional time with God’s word and build mental fortitude by trusting in God and turning to Him in times of pain.
Throughout Scripture, God reminds us that we are not expected to be perfect. Challenges, setbacks, struggles, and disappointments are all part of our human experience. Also, part of our human experience is learning how to live with and work through these challenges, which is why we have professionals like therapists, mental health counselors, spiritual directors, life coaches, and other individuals who are important companions when we are struggling.
Lectio Divina can be done with any scripture passage. Here are a few of our suggestions:
Lectio Divina: Book of Job
Consider praying with the book of Job, whose anguish and pain was so deep and constant, and yet who trusted in God’s will.
“He said, ‘Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!’ In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:21-21)
Lectio Divina: Psalms
Praying with the Psalms remind us that God is with us at all times and can be a source of comfort in times of joy as well as in times of sorrow.
“The righteous cry out, the Lord hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (Psalms 34:18-19)
Lectio Divina: Gospels
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus teaches us to be patient and trust in the Lord, especially when we feel anxious or uncertain.
“Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:34)
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
Read more: How to Pray with the Gospels
While prayer alone is not a remedy for mental health challenges or severe mental health illness, Lectio Divina is an important tool for strengthening our relationship with God, which in turn helps us build strong mental health. When we struggle, understanding through Scripture that God is with us can give us the trust and confidence to ask for help when we need it.
Ready to get started? The Hallow app includes numerous Lectio Divina sessions – including the Daily Gospel, which is a great way to begin.
RELATED: Prayers for Anxiety
Note: While prayer is an important part of strong mental health, it is not a standalone solution to severe mental illness such as depression, addiction, severe anxiety, etc. If you are experiencing any of these, we urge you to reach out to a mental health professional in your area.