Kept alive by the Benedictine monastics, lectio divina is a slow, contemplative prayer over Scripture that allows the Bible, the Word of God, to become an avenue for uniting the praying individual with God. Setting aside time for the practice of lectio divina can help us create a foundational spiritual rhythm in our daily lives.
The first step in lectio divina — listening to or reading the Word — is done in a manner very different than how modern Christians often consume texts, be they newspapers, books or even the Bible. Rather than speed-reading, lectio encourages us to slow down and listen to the words in a spirit of silence and awe. We are listening for the still, small voice of God that will speak to us personally – not loudly, but intimately. In lectio we read slowly, attentively…gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God’s message for us this day.
Lectio divina can be done alone or in groups. Below is a set of steps for practicing individually:
- Read: Slowly read a short piece of Scripture and listen for the Word of God. Look for a word or phrase that catches your attention.
- Meditate: Meditate on that word or phrase. As you reread those words or phrases, listen for how they might be connected to experiences or truths present in your life.
- Pray: Let your heart speak to God. Ask that He might bring the Word into the deepest and most intimate spaces of your life.
- Contemplate/Rest: Remain still and silent. Is there anything else from the passage or your meditation that God is bringing to your awareness?
Here is a sample procedure for groups:
- The group leader slowly reads through the Scripture passage aloud. A period of silence and contemplation follows. The leader asks, “What word caught your attention?” Participants should feel free to answer silently or aloud.
- The leader slowly reads the Scripture passage aloud a second time. A period of silence and contemplation follows. The leader asks, “What phrase stood out to you?” Participants can answer silently or aloud.
- The leader slowly reads the Scripture passage aloud a third time. A period of silence and contemplation follows. The leader asks, “What invitation do you hear in this passage?” Participants can answer silently or aloud.
- The leader ends the session with a prayer. Sample: “Lord, may these words take on flesh in our lives. Infuse your scriptures in our daily walk with you. Bless those in this room, protect them, care for them, give them strength and discernment. Amen.”
Do you have experience with lectio divina? We’d love to hear from you.
Resources that were used to create this post and that you may find helpful in adopting the practice of lectio divina:
Photo by Flickr user Leonard John Matthews via Creative Commons