Lectio Divina

Monday, February 7, 2011

(Image credit)

Lectio divina. When I heard those words for the first time a couple weeks ago in my Moms Bible Study, I had no idea what they meant. I'm still no expert, (far from it!) but I would love to share what I have learned, and hopefully encourage further discussion.

Lectio divina is Latin for divine reading. The basic idea is to read Scriptures slowly - ruminate on them. It is called an ancient practice of "praying the scriptures" with times of reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio), and resting in God's presence (contemplatio). The goal is to commune with God.

(Image credit and another great article)

Monks have been doing it since at least the 6th century. It gained popularity in recent years after Pope Benedict XVI said in September 2005, "I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart. If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church - I am convinced of it - a new spiritual springtime." Thank you, Wikipedia.

Now I don't know about you, but this is intimidating to me. Latin, monks, ancient practice . . . it looks hard. But the way we are practicing lectio divina in my small group is pretty simple: we pick a passage, two to three verses at most, and read it three times.

That's it.

The value of reading something three times is well known by teachers everywhere - we rarely "get" something the first time we read it. The first time you read something, you read what you think you see, omitting or adding words. The second time you read something, you realize your mistakes. The third time, you read what is actually written.

It is so true.

Try doing this with a passage of scripture, pausing between each reading to think. Read again, think again.

Do you know how hard that is? It is hard to slow down. My brain jumps from thought to thought, spins around, and then jumps again. It is hard to be still and think prayerfully, to meditate and contemplate - and then read again. So maybe my initial fears were well grounded; this is kind of tough. But oh the lights that come on when I



Want to give it a try?

I think this is a good place to start:

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:5-7

Now think about it, and read it again. Slowly. And again. What words jump out at you? What did you get wrong the first time? What is now taking on a deeper meaning?

Come back to this passage again later today. Is there something new?

I dare say that though you are not a Latin scholar, monk, or minister - no, you are (most likely) a busy mom - you just communed with God via one ancient practice known as, lectio divina.
Do you practice lectio divina? How? What works for you?

Did you read the passage from Psalms three times? Did it change as you read it? Are you still rolling it around in your mind? Share your thoughts and insights. We'd love to hear them.

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10 Responses to “Lectio Divina”

  1. I've done this just for a short period of time, but I think it is such a good practice. No wonder that I can read the same story in the bible over and over at different times in my life and then get something completely different out of it each time.

  2. Such a great idea. Honestly, I found myself skipping over the verse/speed reading it. Then I took the challenge of reading it 3 times. And what a perfect verse for the concept! "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him" I tend to rush through so many things. I'm going to give this a try..thanks for sharing this!!


  3. I think I can just stop at commit your way to the Lord...that is enough for me right now:) I didn't know it had a name...I have read bits and pieces of this process over the years. How nice it would be to go back to a slower, simpler time all the way around.
    this is valuable

  4. I've never heard of this phrase before.. but I LOVE it. I think I'm going to introduce this into my life. I need repetition. It's the only way I really absorb things. Thanks for that verse too. I read it three times, and it really did sink in more!

  5. I am a super skimmer. I must force myself to do this otherwise I only get surface meaning.

  6. I had never heard of this before! This is very cool and helpful. Thanks SO MUCH for posting. I love the idea of the "intimate dialogue"

  7. three times. yes. so, so good.

    what stood out to me at last was this: commit YOUR WAY...that's me, it is speaking to ME to commit my way {not someone else's way}...to the LORD...to HIM specifically...me and Him. My way committed to Him. Oh, got my attention.
    Then "HE WILL DO THIS", not He might do something, but He WILL do THIS. And I am amazed at what He will do: make MY righteousness (did He really say that???...MY righteousness as in "my own") shine like the dawn and the justice of MY cause like the noonday sun. Really?? Really? This is about me committing my way to Him and trusting in Him and He will do this with me? This is hope, encouragement, relief, peace. Yes.

    Thank you for sharing this...it would be so easy to skim and miss the personal, intimate treasure that is here. The relationship that is here.

    What if I believe this is true for me today? How will I live?

    Thank you.
    Love & grace,

  8. You are a good teacher.


  9. I cannot tell you how much i loved this post. I often notice this to be true, that if I meditate on scripture, God will speak to me through it, but I never knew the name. And I don't practice it near enough. As a girl who loves some yoga, not the chanting kind, just good old Americanized yoga, I think I will tuck a scripture in my heart before I go to yoga so that I can focus on a scripture during that time. Thank you for this post, you have really blessed me with your words.

  10. i love lectio divina and use it a lot in small group settings-especially with kids. there is a place for teaching and preaching from a person who knows a text through careful study, but one role of the Holy Spirit is to illumine the scriptures to us--without an experts guiding us through. it such a great tool in helping people read the bible who've otherwise been intimidated.

    i'm always blessed by the practice, too.