Study as a practice of spiritual development

This is the introduction I wrote for a forum at Trinity Church Wall Street. The forum was for parish reflection on its congregational library in preparation for transition into construction of a new building for parish offices and activities.

Trinity Parish Forum on Library

May 18, 2014


Introduction: Study as a practice of spiritual development

We use books and other reading materials as tools, ways to get something done, to understand something better, to figure out how to solve a problem.  But reading can also be, of itself, worship—attending to and praising God through listening to some voices besides the ones that are already in your head. This can happen, in fact it frequently happens in the process of reading for one of these utilitarian reasons—things are changed because in God’s presence we come into contact with God’s transforming word.

This certainly happens with scripture, and there is even a well worked out practice of reading scripture in this way called Lectio Divina. But study as worship does not only have to be from reading scripture, anything you read can bring you out of yourself—and listening to something new—and perhaps falling into the abyss of the loving arms of God.

Let us pray.Rare Book Reading Room

Blessed are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scoffers.


Their delight is in the law of the Lord,

and they meditate on his law day and night.


They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.


The first three verses of the Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible.


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