What is Lectio Divina?
Over the centuries, Christians have developed different methods to help them talk to God in prayer. Although some have strange sounding names due to being developed when Latin was the main language of the Church, most are actually simple to do and often helpful tools for developing a regular prayer life. Consequently Christians today are rediscovering and using these techniques.
Lectio Divina, for example, is a Christian monastic practice, dating from the 5th century. It has grown in popularity in recent years as a useful way of praying contemplatively and entering into a conversation with, rather than simply praying to God.
How do I start to Practice?
Lectio Divina is a relatively straightforward and simple spiritual exercise. Like all exercises, it often gets better with practice but the main thing is simply to make a start.
First choose a short passage from scripture, this could be a favourite reading you would like to look at again or one you have found difficult and would like to spend more time with. If you already have a resource you use which suggests a daily reading, simply apply the steps below to the reading for each day. Or you may like to choose a book of the bible and work your way through in small daily chunks.
Find a quiet space where you can concentrate and will not be disturbed. This can be inside or outside if you prefer. Take some deep breaths before you begin to read. You may find it helpful to inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts (repeating 3 times).
Step One: Reading (Lectio)
Slowly read your chosen passage of scripture silently or aloud.
Step Two: Meditation (Meditatio)
Read the passage again and think about what it is saying to you.
Perhaps you can imagine yourself in the story? Or maybe you can reflect on how the people in it are acting and reacting?
Are there any words or phrases that you notice are standing out?
Do you feel God is asking you to think about something particular today?
Step Three: Prayer (Oratio)
Read the passage again. Take some time to have a conversation with God about your thoughts.
Is there something you feel prompted to say to God today?
Maybe there are questions you want to ask?
Step Four: Contemplatio (Contemplation)
Read the text a final time and take some time to simply enjoy resting in God’s presence.
What meaning did the passage have for you today?
Is it prompting you to think about changing something?
Don’t feel there has to be a specific message, maybe its just time to enjoy being with God.
Step Five: Action (Actio)
You may want to reflect on what steps you want to take as a result of the time you have spent prayerfully considering these scriptures today.
Give thanks to God for this time. You may want to repeat the inhale/exhale breath at this time.
You may find it helpful to record your thoughts in a journal before you end your practice so that you can remember anything you found helpful or challenging or to note any actions you would like to take.
May God’s blessing be upon you as you draw nearer through your prayer and reading. We hope you enjoy your practice!
Lisa Wilson, URC Ordinand