Lectio Divina, also known as “spiritual”, “divine” or “Holy” reading, is an ancient Christian practice, dating back to the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 3rd century, and while the techniques vary, the focus is the same- engaging scripture not as a text to be learned or studied, but as the Living Word of Christ. You can use any text you like. The New Testament, and parables in particular, are excellent passages.
We will be using Luke 13: 18-19 on July 9th together. Feel free to use that text with the below instructions:
The Four Steps of Lectio Divina
(3-6 mins, depending on length and content of reading)
1) Choose a passage. Don’t just skim through the passage if you already know the story, but read through and linger on each sentence. Read it a few times and try to notice different words or phrases as they jump out to you. This is the first step, called ‘Lectio.’
(Take your time with this section, a good 15 minutes or more. Don’t be afraid to let your senses, emotions take you on a journey. Try to not overthink questions or get stuck in thoughts. Try to experience the passage. Try to feel it.)
2) Next, slowly read the scripture again, and take a few minutes to sit and be in that moment. Imagine you are in the story. What does the scene look like? Who are you in the story? What are your senses?
What can you smell or taste? Can you hear anything?
How are the people in the scene feeling?
How do you feel when people speak or act?
Pray through what you experience and let God speak to you. It’s a lot more about listening than about talking, and about seeing what God wants to show you.
What is it like to experience Jesus’ presence, words, or actions? How do you react?
What goes on in your heart? Is there a particular prayer on your heart?
As we place ourselves in this moment, we are in the second step called ‘Meditatio.’
3) Read through the scripture again, slowly lingering on each verse. Now – that prayer that’s on your heart? It’s time to pray it, to turn it towards God. The emotions and thoughts that have come out of meditation move us into authentic prayer – conversation with God. Your prayer doesn’t have to look any particular way. Share with God whatever is on your heart. If you’re struggling to pray, tell God and ask for help. This is ‘Oratio.’
4) Finally, reading the scripture one last time, it’s time to contemplate… a heavy word that really just means to sit and listen. Take a few closing minutes to sit with God. What did God show you? What did you say to God?
You might want to have a little notebook handy to jot a thought or two down, as once you get back to the busy-ness of life, thoughts and/or inspirations tend to get lost.
If you like to journal, this would be the ideal time for you.
‘Contemplatio’ is the last step.