Lectio Divina

A a quick start guide for “divine reading” of Scripture to enhance your experience in spending quality time with God.

“Our typical desire is to know more, to read more and to study more, which can be an expression of our culture and its acquisitive nature. However, knowing God, not knowing more, is the real goal.” ~Richard Rohr

Bible study and devotional reading are not the same. Bible study is important, because it increases our knowledge about God’s character and God’s agenda for humanity, leading us toward an understanding of salvation and restoration. On the other hand, devotional reading or “Lectio Divina” invites us into an experiential kind of knowing, one that transcends the intellect. Knowing God is a multisensory experience of heart, mind and soul (Mt. 22:36-37). Lectio divina is a way of attending to Scripture with an ear toward hearing a word directly from God. It is an ancient practice that invites me (and you) into God’s presence to listen for His particular, loving word to me at this particular moment in time. It is an important spiritual discipline to practice.

There are many different variations to Lectio Divina, including different formats for group settings or individual practice, but they generally adhere to a set of sequential movements. The following movements are primarily designed for individual practice, but can also be used in small groups. . . enjoy!

Five Movements of Lectio Divina
(Prescribed times are recommended minimums and can be extended longer)

1 | Silencio (silence): Begin with quiet preparation of your heart. Slow down. Be deliberate. Make time for this. It’s an important relational exercise that cannot be rushed. Find a comfortable place that’s quiet and without interruption or distraction (keep your phone in the other room!). Come into God’s presence by sitting still, in silence for at least two minutes. Try not to think, just concentrate on your breathing; try to empty your mind. (2 minutes)

2 | Lectio (reading): Read the selected scripture passage slowly and out loud, lingering over the words so that they resonate in your heart. Listen for a word or phrase catches your attention, don’t keep reading. The goal is not always to finish the passage, but to hear from God. Pause and attend to what God is saying to you. Be open to the word. Don’t analyze it or judge it. Just listen and wait in silence. (5 minutes)

3 | Meditatio (meditate; reflective reading): Read the same passage a second time, out loud. Listen for an invitation that God might be extending to you in this word. It may be connected to the word or phrase that previously stood out. Reflect on the importance of the words that light up— they might be new, or the same words from the first reading. Don’t analyze. Just seek God’s invitation in these words— what is God inviting you to do or to consider? (5 minutes)

4 | Oratio (responsive prayer): Read the same passage a third and final time. Respond in prayer to God. Now is the moment to enter into dialog with God, analyzing God's invitation to you, your convictions and your feelings. Let it out. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It helps to pray out loud; remember, prayer is not something you do, it’s someone you’re with. God is listening. You don’t need to be eloquent, but you must be authentic. Here you can wrestle with and express the feelings or challenges that the text aroused in you. Be mindful and honest about your feelings— whether anger or joy, resentment or peace, good or bad. Talk to God about these feelings. (5 minutes)

5 | Contemplatio (silent contemplation): Return to silence. Allow some time for the word to sink deeply into your soul. Concentrate on surrendering your will or feelings to the invitation or conviction you might have heard from God. Seek a reminder that will help you dwell on this word throughout the rest of your day (3 minutes)

Adapted from:
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us,
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.