Lectio Divina means “spiritual reading”. The name itself is a clue that this way of reading is clearly different from the way we might read a textbook, a sports magazine, or a favourite website.
In this way of approaching the Bible, we are looking for something more than information. We are looking for formation. We are seeking to be transformed and renewd by God and to have the “mind of Christ”. Lection divina is a reflective and prayerful kind of reading. It is about quality, not quantity. It is about going deeper, not about covering a lot of territory. In a way, instead of our reading the Bible, we open ourselves and allow the Bible to “read” us.
Allowing the Bible to read us
Lectio divina goes back a long way to the Jewish tradition of meditating on Scripture. You can see this practice in Psalm 1:1-2: “Happy are those who … delight … in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.” In the sixth century, Saint Benedict refined this practice for monastic communities; and in the centuries since, both Roman Catholics and Protestants have widely used this form of reading the Bible.
Perhaps this way of reading Scripture is already familiar to you. When something in Scripture catches yoru attention, you stop reading and think about it some more. In the same way you chew your food, you process and reprocess this spiritual food until it is more fully digested by your heart and mind.
How do you practice lectio divina?
When you practice lectio divina, you will want to choose a short passage of Scripture, maybe four to eight verses, and then follow these steps:
- First, invite God to speak to you through Scripture and prepare yourself to listen.
- Read the Scripture through once, then again, slowly. Read it aloud a few tiems. Listen for the word or pharse that attracts you or seems to stand out from the rest of the words.
- Reflect on what the words mean in the pharse that sticks with you. “Chew” on the words for awhile. What is God trying to say to you?
- Respond to God in prayer about what God has said to you in the Scripture. Are you thankful? Sad? Angry? Guilty? Enlightened? How does the Scripture move you to pray?
- Rest in God’s presence and simply enjoy the nearness of God.
- Record your experience or any insight you receive during this time.
Put into practice
Try using the lectio divina method of reading Scripture for any of the following verses this week.
- Psalm 63:1-8
- Jeremiah 1:4-9
- Micah 6:8
- Habakkuk 3:17-19
- Mark 4:35-41
- Luke 24:28-32
- Colossians 3:1-3