Lectio Divina – A Way of Praying the Scriptures
Lectio Divina is a way of praying the Scriptures which may be put it into practice in your private times with God. Perhaps you are familiar with it in a group setting, but it is a little different in one’s private time than in a group setting. It is an excellent way of learning to listen to God and of transforming your prayer into a dialogue with God. Lectio Divina is Latin for Holy (or Divine) Reading. There are four activities which (in Latin) are lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. You begin by reading a short passage, reflecting on what spoke to you, responding in prayer, and then listening to God’s response to you and receiving from Him.
Lectio (i.e. reading)
Reading – Reading or listening to the Scripture with an open mind and an open heart; not to master the Word, but allowing the Word to master you. Listen with the ears of your heart in expectant faith, paying attention to your response: what rises up in your heart; what do you feel; to what are you attracted; what brings discomfort; are you drawn toward or away from God? Pay attention to your whole being: your physiological, intellectual, emotional, and deep responses.
Meditatio (i.e. meditation)
Reflecting – Decide on a word or phrase that seemed to stand out the most as you listened with your whole being. Reflect on that word or phrase – repeat it, think about it, chew it. Remember your response as you listened. Be open honest with yourself and God, and truly hear how this word speaks to you in your life and to your person. In this process, allow your heart to open wider and allow the word or phrase to enter more deeply.
Oratio (i.e. prayer)
Responding – Respond to God from your heart and mind; giving from what you have received. Let your response to the word or phrase be turned into prayer from the heart. Ask God questions that came up in your reflection: why did I respond that way; what does He mean and not mean; what area of my life does this apply; what is God calling me to do? Perhaps you also respond with repentance, commitment, thanksgiving, or worship. In this process, you are becoming more vulnerable and open, listening even more deeply.
Contemplatio (i.e. contemplation)
Receiving – Return to listening, and receive God’s response to your prayer response moving toward a dialogue of love. In this progression of praying the scriptures you have become more open and present to God, more receptive and self-surrendered. As God’s gracious self-gift gives you the capacity and freedom to respond in trustful surrender, He gives even more. With practice, you will find that God’s own infusion of love, truth, and life become in you a spring of life from which you pour back to God in loving prayer. From this place you are empowered to participate in Christ’s own mission by grace – by His life in you – in obedience and loving, active service