Lectio Divina, Latin for “divine reading” is a carful, contemplative praying of Holy Scripture. It is a traditional Benedictine practice that focuses on communion with God. It is not a Bible Study or an academic exercise but a way of joining the Holy Spirit and praying through the Scriptures.
Lectio Divina can help us add to our daily life a rhythm involving prayer and God’s Word. Very often you’ll find aspects of your daily life naturally being brought into your meditations on the Scriptures. This is actually “scriptural conversation” with the Holy Spirit; a listening for God’s presence to give us deeper understanding and assurance. Through the scared narrative we find Jesus reaching out to us through our own memories and daily events.
Our personal life becomes salvation history.
How to Practice Lectio Divina
Choose a passage of the Bible you wish to pray. On St. John’s Web Site you will find some great help here. On the Front Page you will find these links that may help you. The first is the Good News Daily. This is a monthly publication we provide that has a Scripture passage and meditation for each day of the month. The second link is the Sunday Readings. These reading are the one’s we use each Sunday at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. If you chose to use these readings or any part of them it will be a beautiful way to prepare yourself for Sunday worship or to carry your Sunday worship out into the week. And the third Scripture link is the Daily Lectionary. This link takes you to the Lectionary for Morning and Evening Prayer for all seven days of the week. Plenty of Scripture here to use! Something cool about this link is that each Scripture passage has an audio link so you can actually listen to the passage during your Lectio Divine.
But you can also simply open your Bible and choose your own passage. There is no set amount of the narrative that you need to read. Just read enough that it completes the story or event being told. The actual amount is between you and the Holy Spirit.
After you have found what Scripture you want to read. Make sure you’re comfortable and the space around you is relatively quiet. It helps to quiet our mind and body down by using a “focus” word, like breathing softly one of the names of God. Breath the names a try to quiet down. But use whatever is best for you that allows you to gain some interior quiet for your prayer time.
Now that you have found a passage to reflect on begin to read it slowly, very gently, reflectively. If need be read through it several times.
- Listen carefully to the words and phrases. Often times you will be drawn to certain words or even one word. Don’t neglect this. In Lectio Divina, the Holy Spirit is teaching us to listen to Him, and to seek Him in the silence of words and narration. The Holy Spirit is the gentle gift from the Father, gentle in that He does not grab at us but gently opens us up so we can move more deeply into His presence.
- As you repeat the word(s) of the story allow it to connect to your concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. This may happen. Remember your memories or thoughts are part of who you are today and when they may surface during Lectio Divina it’s because the Holy Spirit is nudging you to given these thoughts, ideas, and situation in your past to God. Allow this inner pondering freedom, don’t frustrate it. You most likely will discover a dialogue with God.
Never be afraid to converse with God. He loves you. This type of experience of God through a word or phrase or story has been given to you. It can become a means of receiving God’s blessing and to transform the ideas and the memories that Lectio Divina has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.
At the conclusion always seek opportunity to rest in God’s love. If you feel the nudge to return to some part of the meditation do so but now know that the Holy Spirit has been with you. You are safe. The conversation or your inner dialogue with God shall be fruitful. Hang onto the key words that emerged during this time of Lectio Divina. Maintain a journal of your words and thoughts. Record the Scripture that inspired this inner journey. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity. Sometimes in Lectio Divina, you may return several times to the passage. At other times, only a single word or phrase will fill the whole time set aside for Lectio Divina. Your prayer time is freedom in the Spirit. This method has but one purpose and that is to help bring you into the presence of God by praying His living Word.