This post is part of a series.
This first spiritual discipline is a fantastic way to allow scripture to lead you into an experience with God. It is more experiential than analytic, but that’s OK!
Tradition tells us that Lectio Divina as we know it today probably originated with Saint Benedict and Pope Gregory I, though it has a much fuller history before and after that. But forget the history, let’s engage in this four step process. I suggest trying it with Psalm 63 to start, but you can choose any passage.
1. Read (Lectio)
Read the passage slowly, a few times. The first time, perhaps read it silently, Then read it aloud. Then read it aloud a couple more times, emphasizing different words or phrasing. Allow your mind to get into the rhythm of the words.
2. Reflect (Meditatio)
Read the passage more slowly and turn it around in your mind. Perhaps ask some questions like
- What does this passage mean?
- How does this passage relate to a situation in my life?
- How would I explain the passage’s meaning if I had to summarize it?
- Is there a message in the passage that is not obvious?
At this point, some of the verses may be standing out to you, or even “speaking to you,” as the action of truth on our conscience and inner being is often described. Time to move on then to the next step.
3. Respond (Oratio)
Talk to God about this. Ask God for instruction, enter into a conversational interaction with God. Do you wonder if you are just speaking to yourself, or perhaps some ‘higher’ part of yourself? We all have that question, and truthfully, there is just no way to be sure. Trust that God can and does speak. We may hear incompletely or misunderstand, but that is how communication with others works – even with God! And in fact, we are so not oriented to God’s thinking that we need to spend time allowing the scriptures to change our thinking so that when God does speak, we know what he means!
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2 NLT
Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. ~ Ephesians 4:23 NLT
4. Rest (Contemplatio)
Rest in the knowledge you have just gained. Think about what you have learned – about yourself, about God, about the world. Enjoy the fruit of peace that comes from interaction with God and His word.