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Lectio Divina

Purpose

To be open to God to speaking to us through Scripture.

Introduction

Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading. It is an ancient Contemplative form of prayer intended to connect with God in an intimate way through meditation and contemplation on scripture. Lectio divina has it’s roots in Judaism, it flows out of a Hebrew method of studying Scripture called haggadah, a process of learning by heart.[1]

St Benedict of Nursia, who lived in the 6th century, is credited with promoting and refining its use.[2] Christians believe that Hebrew and Christian scriptures are a “living revelation” with words that communicate to us in remarkable ways across time.[3]

Lectio divina is not about acquiring head knowledge of Scripture, but about profound encounter with the heart of God.[4] When we pray lectio divina, we see the words of Scripture as God’s living words being spoken to our hearts in this moment.[5] Barton elaborates and states that when we read the Scriptures for a relationship, and engage the scriptures for spiritual transformation, we engage not only our mind, but also our heart, our emotions, our body, our curiosity, our imagination and our will.[6]

Ruth Haley Barton provides some questions to keep in mind while practicing lectio divina:

What does it say? What does it mean? How do I apply it to my life? How do I feel about what is being said? Where do I find myself resonating deeply? Where do I find myself resisting, pulling back, wrestling with what Scripture might be saying? Why do I feel this way? What do my reactions tell me about myself—my attitudes, my relating patterns, my perspectives, my behaviors? Am I willing to look at that in God’s presence?[7]

When practicing lectio divina as a group, it is not unusual to find that each person will have a different experience while reading the same Scripture passage.

Practice

  1. Select a verse from Scripture that you would like to pray, allow God to guide you in your choice. The length is also up to you. If you are unable to think of one, feel free to choose from one of the verses found here.
  2. Silencio—make sure you are seated comfortably and have some time of silence, take a few deep breaths to help calm and center yourself.
  3. Lectio—read your selected text slowly. Be open to certain words or phrases standing out above the others and speaking to you. In lectio divina God is teaching us to listen to Him, to seek Him in silence. He does not reach out and grab us; rather, He softly, gently invites us ever more deeply into His presence.[8]
  4. Meditatio—when you settle on a word or phrase that stands out, meditate on it, slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories and ideas. Do not be afraid of “distractions.” Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself which, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.[9] Is there a reason this word or phrase stands out?
  5. Contemplatio--speak to God. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Experience God using the word or phrase that He has given you as a means of blessing, of transforming the ideas and memories, which your pondering on His word has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.[10] If you keep a journal, write down how you hear God speaking to you. Write a prayer to God if you feel inclined. Rest in God’s presence.

Remember

“It is not necessary to anxiously assess the quality of one's lectio divina as if one were “performing” or seeking some goal: lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.”[11]

Additional resources

Paintner, Christine Valters. Lectio Divina—the sacred art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer.

Barton, Ruth Haley. Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation


[1] Paintner, Christine Valters. Lectio Divina—the sacred art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer.(Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2011), 4.

[2] Paintner, Lectio Divina, 4.

[3] Paintner, Lectio Divina, 6-7.

[4] Paintner, Lectio Divina, 8.

[5] Paintner, Lectio Divina, 9.

[6] Barton, Sacred Rhythms, 50.

[7] Barton, Sacred Rhythms, 51.

[8] Dysinger, Fr. Luke O.S.B. Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of lectio divina. Last updated on December 9, 2005. Accessed March 28, 2015.

www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html

[9] www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html

[10] www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html

[11] www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html

 
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