We live in a fast paced world where scrolling, skimming, and skipping are common functions for us. Sometimes this even applies to how we read Scripture, but the gift of Lectio Divina is that it helps us more intentionally slow down. Lectio Divina which is translated in Latin as "divine or sacred reading" dates back to the early mothers and fathers of the Christian faith. This practice is rooted in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is alive and active through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
- Hebrews 4:12, NIV
We are creating space for God’s word to sink deep within and speak to us. We are reading for the purpose of an encounter with God. This practice of slowing down and “chewing” on scripture is experienced through five movements:
Prepare - Read - Reflect - Respond - Rest
MOVEMENTS OF LECTIO DIVINA
First, pick a passage of scripture (no more than 8 verses) to slowly read. The Psalms and the Gospels are a great place to start.
Preparation (Silencio) Be still. Take some deep breaths as you quiet the noise, settle into your space, and become more aware of God’s presence.
Read (Lectio) Read the passage slowly. Listen for the words or images that stand out to you. Pause until you have that word or phrase in mind. God, what does it say?
Reflect (Meditato) Read the passage again. Meditating or “chew” on the passage. Think, reflect, and imagine that scripture coming alive to you. What is God saying to you?
Respond (Oratio) Read the passage again. What is your response to God based on the scripture you read and encounter you have had? Share with God your feelings and thoughts in prayer.
Rest (Contemplatio) Read the passage one more time. You’ve listened to God, you’ve responded to God, and now you are invited to rest in God. Relax in this moment and know you are loved unconditionally.
Give yourself grace with this practice.
Practice when you don’t have any time constraints.
Moments to pause, to breathe, and simply be
If your mind wanders, gently redirect your thoughts toward God.
Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson
Lectio Divina: Engaging the Scriptures for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton