Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading, is a way to read short passages of Scripture with goal of depth rather than breadth. It is an ancient spiritual practice that started as a key feature in the daily schedule of Benedictine monk practices in the 6th century. It is a way to listen to God’s word, to let it wash over us, to approach it as our daily bread, to step back from analysis and deconstruction and instead come at it from a posture of openness to any way the Spirit may speak and change us through the Word.
It involves four steps:
Reading, Meditating, Praying, and Contemplating
From ‘Hearing God’ by Dallas Willard:
Scripture passage: Romans 5:10-11; 6:4, 8-11
To prepare to read in order to receive from God- Close your eyes and breathe out slowly. Ask God to give you an openness to hear whatever the Spirit wishes to bring to you today.
Read: Lectio: Read the passage slowly. Now that the words are familiar to you, please read it again. This time, also listen with the ear of your heart for a word or phrase, a detail of the story that shimmers or stands out to you. Do not choose this yourself. Let the Spirit bring it to you. Even if you don’t like it, try to welcome it with meekness and see what happens.
Reflect: meditatio: Read the passage again slowly. As you do so and for a few minutes afterward, reflect on the word or phrase that stood out to you. Why do you think these words resonated with you? Then, ask God, how does this connect with my life today? What do I need to know or be or do? Give yourself a few minutes to do this.
Respond (pray): oratio: Read the passage one last time, preparing yourself for what you want to say to God about what you think the Scripture might have said to you or what came to you. Pray however you are led to pray. You might thank God for something or ask God for something.
- Rest (contemplation): contemplatio: Do as you are led. You may wish to wait on God--to simply be with God. You may wish to ponder, how did God seem in the passage? How did Christ seem in the passage? Is there anything about Christ that makes you want his life in you, or at least want to be with him? Sit in the beauty and hope of that.
You should allow at least 5 minutes of silent reflection/prayer after each step. Journal along the way if that is a practice that appeals to you.