Lectio Divina is Latin for ‘divine reading’ and is an ancient practice of meditation attributed to the benedictine monks. It traditionally consists of 4 stages (Reading, Meditating, Prayer, and Contemplation) and is usually a process repeated a number of times. It is a way to take a short passage of scripture and use it as a means of hearing what God is saying to us. A few things to remember before you start:
- This is NOT a time for intellectual study. If you have a question about the passage that you wish to explore deeper, make a note and study it later.
- Christian meditation is NOT the same as meditation from Eastern religions. The goal is not to ’empty’ yourself, but to ‘fill’ yourself with God’s word and experience God’s presence.
- When choosing passages, chose short passages that you can understand. Stories are particularly helpful. Do not chose passages that are difficult to read or interpret.
- Remember, this is NOT a study, so don’t use this as the sole basis for interpreting God’s word for you. If God reveals a message to you, confirm it through further study before acting on it.
Step by step guide to meditation using ‘lectio divina’ (with suggested times)
- Pray (2 minutes) – use this time as a focusing prayer, not for lifting concerns. Ask God to clear your mind of distractions, open your heart to hear his message, and give you focus. Take your time. Allow this to be the beginning of the process of slowing yourself down to hear God’s word.
- Read passage through SLOWLY (3 minutes) – Read out loud if possible. Use this 1st reading as a means of familiarizing yourself with the text.
- Silence (1 minute) – try to clear your mind of anything except the text
- Read passage a 2nd time (3 minutes) – Try to put yourself into the scripture (substitute yourself for a character, see yourself as a bystander, etc). Let God give you an image of the setting and try to experience the text.
- Silence (1 minute) – again, try to focus only on the text
- Prayer (1 minute) – pray that God will speak to you through the text and reveal a word or phrase within the text that speaks directly to you.
- Read passage a 3rd time (3 minutes) – Listen closely to the text and pay attention to what God is bringing to your focus. What word or phrase sticks out?
- Silence (2 minutes) – take a longer time allowing the word or phrase to be the focus
- Prayer (1 minute) – focus your prayer on asking God to reveal the action or significance of the word of phrase He has given you.
- Read passage one final time (3 minutes) – listen for the word/phrase again and seek God’s confirmation of his message to you
- Reflection (5 minutes) – take time reflecting on what God is saying to you. Write down the word/phrase and what you feel God is calling you to do or His message through the word/phrase.
- Prayer (2 minutes) – ask God to give you strength to fulfill His will and thank God for speaking to you. Make sure to ask for protection – as you grow closer to God you become a greater threat to the world!
Total estimated time – 27 minutes
* for more info about Lectio Divina, visit http://www.lectio-divina.org/