Do you need help with Bible reading? Are you looking to try a new approach? Contemplation is essential for cultivating intimacy with Christ – and Lectio Divina is a great way to contemplate the Scriptures.
What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina, Latin for “divine reading.” Later understood as “divine lesson,” it is an ancient practice of contemplation.
In Lectio Divina, emphasis is placed on a slow reading of the Scripture that involves a three-fold encounter of the reader, the text and the Holy Spirit. It is about being shaped by the Word of God more so than gaining information about God.
To do this, we must read the passage very carefully, and as we do so, we should rely on the Spirit of God to open our eyes, ears and hearts.
How to Do Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina doesn’t have steps like other Bible reading and reflection methods. However, there are four components (lectio, meditation, oratio, contemplation), and you can do them in any order or simultaneously.
A slow, careful and humble reading (and re-reading) of the text. In Lectio, we listen for a word, phrase or concept from God that speaks to us intimately and personally.
This is mulling over, repeating and pondering the Word so that it becomes personally meaningful. It’s inviting God to interact with our thoughts, hopes, desires, memories and aspirations to receive God’s Word in the depths of who we are.
God speaks through His Word, and we talk back. Oratio is repeating what God has said to us, praying for any promises we may find in the text, thanking Him for insight or understanding, giving Him a sign of our surrender, allowing ourselves to be formed and transformed by the Word and asking for help and healing.
This is putting aside our plans or agendas to rest and abide in the presence of Christ. It resists the tendency to think about other things and focus on being with God.
Sometimes Lectio Divina is short; sometimes, it can take days, weeks, months, or years. It is also a private or communal practice.
Lectio Divina With Others
Here’s an example of how a small group might practice Lectio Divina
1. Listen to the Word of God.
Everyone sits in silence and quietens their hearts and minds. Then the chosen text is read out loud. Each person listens for a word or phrase that catches their attention. Then each person says the word or phrase repeatedly in their mind while the group remains silent for two to three minutes following the reading.
2. Ask, “How does this word from God touch my life?”
The passage is read out loud again, and then everyone quietly meditates on the question, “How does this word from God touch my life?” After two or three minutes of silence, the facilitator asks each person to briefly share the connection between the word or phrase and their life.
3. Ask, “What does God want me to do?”
The passage is read out loud a third time. Each person silently meditates on the question, “What does God want me to do?”. Then shares with the group.
4. Pray for each other.
Each person asks God to give the person sitting next to them the strength to respond to what He is asking them to do. Each person prays according to what God has spoken into their life.
5. Contemplate God.
When everyone has prayed, the group is silent, savouring God’s presence and enjoying what He’s done. There should be no talking or other distractions. Then someone closes in prayer.
Lectio Divina With Children
Children can do Lectio Divina! God can speak to them too! Ivy Beckwith, a writer and children’s ministry specialist, says that when it comes to children, “we have no way of knowing what is going on in their heads as they reflect on the Bible story being read to them, but in my experience, they do become engaged in the process and respond … without silliness and sometimes profundity. Children can do silence … And as they practice Lectio, I believe God speaks to them through the text of Scripture in meaningful ways because that is what God desires to do.”
Try Lectio Divina today! Let us know if you have any questions or comments!
This blog post is from a chapter of Dr. Lawson Murray’s book, Bible Engagement Basics. If you’re ready for meaningful Bible time and want to read the Bible better check this book out. It is filled with practical tips to help you better understand what the Bible is and how it can make a difference in your life.