Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading” or “holy reading” and there are four lectio divina steps that I will cover in this post. If you have ever wondered about how to pray scripture, Lectio Divina is a great place to start. Lectio is a Christian tradition of prayerfully reading scripture that has been around since the 1500’s, but is every bit effective for deepening your relationship with God as it was when it began over 500 years ago. The intent of Lectio is to both increase your understanding of the Word and nurture a deeper more open connection with God.
A well rounded approach to scripture involves what I call both informational and formational reading. Most Bible studies tends toward the informational side of the equation. Informational study is predominantly about getting to know the Bible stories and the principles presented therein. Formational reading involves taking time to encounter the text in a way that shapes us as disciples. One approach isn’t better than the other. In fact, they feed one another. Lectio is a practice that is very much a formational reading of scripture.
The four Lectio Divina steps are:
- Lectio: This first movement consists of slowly and attentively reading a scripture passage several times. You may want to jot down words or phrases that seem to stand out to you.
- Meditatio: In this second movement, as the name implies we meditate on the text. This “meditation” is unlike Eastern meditaion traditions that focus on emptying the mind. Rather instead, the intent of meditatio is to engage with the text with an active mind. For example, you may ponder a phrase or word that arrests your attention in your first readings of the text and sit with it wondering how it speaks to your life right now. You may imaginatively place yourself in the story. All the while listening for the Holy Spirit to speak within you about the meaning of this text for your life write now.
- Oratio: Oratio is a Latin word associated with speech. It is a word from which we derive words like oral and oratory. In this third movement, speak to God from your heart about what you discover in the text. The Word may convict your heart about something, if so confess and ask for God’s forgiveness. If the Word touches a hurt, you may seek God’s care. If the Word reveals a calling then from you might pledge yourself to God or ask for guidance. Oratio is for you to respond to God.
- Contemplatio: When all is said and done, lectio comes to an end by simply joyfully resting in God’s presence. We offer back to God our loving focus and attention with a heart full of gratitude.
Don’t over think this method or be legalistic about it. The essence of Lectio is slowing down in your reading enough to prayerfully consider what God may be saying to you right now. Chat with God about what you are hearing and then just tarry a few quiet moments in God’s presence. Just prayerfully follow the four lectio divina steps, the Holy Spirit will do the rest. In some ways I have found this form of reading more valuable to my growth as a disciple than my more academic studies of scripture. Nevertheless, I will repeat what I said earlier, formational and informational reading enhance one another. A mature and wholistic study of God’s Word will include both approaches. I hope this post has helped you understand better how to pray scripture.
Blessings to you as you read God’s Word from The Practical Disciple
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