Sacred Exercises: Lectio Divina
November 6th, 2014 | John Chandler
As we consider how to be more intentional with our time on Sundays, I’m series of posts describing some sacred exercises. Perhaps one, two, or all, of them might become a meaningful routine in your schedule for imagining what your Life it truly meant to look like.
Today, we look (again) at Lectio Divina. This is a prayerful way of reading Scripture and can be done in solitude or with others. Choose a selection of Scripture to meditate on and a quiet place to settle in for this sacred exercise. Chris has previously posted an audio walk-through of how Lectio Divina works, and or you can use this guide below that he posted with it. (Modified for individual use.)
I. LECTIO – Listen
After a short moment of silence, read the passage. Listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.
After the reading, take another moment to quietly meditate on it.
The art of Lectio Divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply. We are learning to hear “with the ear of our hearts.”
When we read the Scriptures we should try to imitate the prophet Elijah who God learned to listen for the still, small voice of God. The cry of the prophets to ancient Israel was the joy-filled command to “Listen!” “Sh’ma Israel: Hear, O Israel!”
In lectio divina we heed that command and turn to the Scriptures, knowing that we must “hear,” that is, listen, to the voice of God, which often speaks very softly.
II. MEDITATIO – Meditate
Read the passage a second time.
Meditate on the passage and the words or phrases that stood out upon first reading. Try to ‘pray the passage.’ Ask God to reveal what the passage means.
Once we have found a word or a passage in the Scriptures that speaks to us in a personal way, we must take it in and “ruminate” on it.
The image of the ruminant animal quietly chewing its cud was used in antiquity as a symbol of the Christian pondering the Word of God.
Christians have always seen a scriptural invitation to lectio divina in the example of the Virgin Mary “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard of Christ (Luke 2:19).
III. ORATIO — Share Aloud
After a third reading, write down the words or phrases that stood out to you.
Prayer is dialogue with God. It is a loving conversation with the One who has invited us into His embrace. It is also consecration. We act as priests, offering to God our whole selves, even parts we did not think he would want.
Speak your work of phrase aloud or write it out. Consider why these were meaningful to you.
IV. CONTEMPLATIO – Contemplate.
Read the passage a final time, savoring the words and thoughts shared earlier.
Finally, we simply rest. Experience the presence of the One who has used His word to invite us to accept His transforming embrace.
In loving relationships, there are moments when words are unnecessary. It is the same in our relationship with God.
Wordless, quiet rest in the presence of the One who loves us has a name in the Christian tradition – contemplatio, contemplation.
Practice silence. Let go of our own words. Then, simply enjoy the experience of being in the presence of God.