A Fruitful Devotional Practice: “Lectio Divina”
Lectio Divina is an ancient practice of reading Scripture that intends to lead the reader into a participation with the text. It is slow, filled with intent, and rich for laying one’s being toward the presence of God. I feel this is a great way to start the day.
Step 1: Lectio (Read)
This step is the simple reading and listening to the word of God. This reading is done slowly, perhaps even two or three times over a passage. The goal is to go slow enough to let the words sink in like the rain that falls on the ground, rain that must go slow across the surface or will simply run off.
What should a reader read? The practice of lectio continua comes into play here: “continuous reading.” Start and finish books of the Bible; read them straight through to absorb your mind with their continued, contextual thought.
Step 2: Meditatio (Think)
This step is meditation on the Scripture you’ve read. The goal is to reflect on the passage and as you begin to notice the story and experiences in the Scripture, allow these resonances to sink in. Begin to ask questions:
- What did this passage originally mean and how does that meaning play into the modern context?
- Why did the author include this?
- What has caught my attention or made me curious?
- What do I not understand?
- What do I resonate with in this story?
Step 3: Oratio (Pray)
This step is responding to the text through the personal address of God in prayer. Bring God into the questions or resonances that have come to you. Ask yourself:
- What do I sense God is stirring within my soul as I’ve read?
- What longing has God awakened within?
- What confession and step of repentance is God calling me to make? How can I describe this to Him?
Step 4: Contemplatio (Live)
This step is the contemplation of the Presence of God, which is simply put: resting in God’s presence and in the identity we receive as baptized children of God, clothed in Christ. At this step, silence begins to edge out the questions and answers; an odd blend of mystery and contentment begin to take root and one feels a desire to relax in that tension for a while.
The practice of this step is more a gift than something cultivated. It just happens, mostly through the prolonged practice of placing oneself in the presence of God’s voice in Scripture through prayer. …it just happens.
Step 5: Actio (Live)
This step is the call to living into the story. Ask God and yourself:
- How is God calling me to repentance?
- How is God calling me to greater reliance on him and the way of Jesus?
- Is there a good thing God is calling me toward?
- Is there a negative thing that God is calling me away from?
- Is there a next step that God’s Spirit is illuminating from this conversation, or is the next step not yet vivid?