Lectio Divina is a spiritual practice that I have found helpful to connect with scripture. “Lectio Divina” is literally Latin for “reading divinely.” Lectio, as it is often called, is an ancient practice of reading and praying the Bible. It is a practice that assumes God’s Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures and that the Holy Spirit also desires to speak to us today through the scriptures. One aspect of practicing Lectio that I have always appreciated is that one doesn’t need to be a Biblical scholar to do Lectio, its simply reading scripture and inviting God to speak to us through the word.
While the practice of Lectio Divina can be varied in length, I find that it is most helpful to give myself enough time so as not to feel rushed in the process, often 20- 30 minutes is a good amount of time when first starting out. If you haven’t practiced Lectio before, here are a few steps to guide you through the process.
1. “Lectio”= Reading
Find a passage to read. It can be any passage in the Bible, but some are easier to read and contemplate than others. If you are just starting out, the Psalms provide ample supply of scripture, as do Jesus’ words in the Gospels. I would recommend something in length from 1 verse to 10 verses.
Once you find your passage, spend some time reading it. Read it over several times, even out loud to yourself, if that is helpful to you. As you are reading, you may notice a phrase popping out to you in your mind or heart. Keep reading; chew the words over in your soul.
2. “Meditatio”= Meditation/Focus/Thinking
In this step you may still be reading a bit, but you are beginning to allow yourself to really ask questions about this scripture. What do the words mean to me? How do these words relate to me? What was being said here originally? What would it be like for me to be in this scene (if appropriate)? Take time to really focus and think on the words, especially any words that “jumped” out to you during the initial readings of the passage.
3. “Oratio”= Talking to God/Praying.
When you have spent some time meditating or you have exhausted the questions you could ask of the passage or of yourself in relation to the passage, move on to asking God about the passage. Like Jacob in Genesis 32, this is where we wrestle with God. Ask God what needs to be revealed to you at this time. This time of “wrestling” is filled with asking and listening; alternate between questioning and listening.
4. “Contemplatio”= Contemplation.
This is sometimes the hardest phase. We seek to be quiet and let God’s wisdom and love takes us over. Try not to allow yourself to think about the distractions that come into your mind, but rather let them simply dissolve. Just sit there. Let God speak to you in the silence. Don’t pretend to speak for God. Just sit there and be silent. If you need something to focus on, just focus on your breathing.
There is no defined end “result” of Lectio Divina. Lectio is done to spend “quality time” with God. The result over time is a deepened relationship with God and a dependence on upon the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, as we read the words in scripture, we pray that you will open our ears, nudge our hearts, and move us in your direction for us. May we always hear your voice, and follow God’s great plan for us. Amen.