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Monday, December 06, 2004

Lectio Divina - Rediscovering an ancient practice

This is the third article in the series on How to Read the Bible. Last time, I wrote on devotional reading, and now I would like to share about an ancient practice that is being re-discovered in contemporary times is called “Lectio Divina” which is Latin for sacred reading. In what follows, I would like to describe the steps that you can use in this spiritual discipline of devotional scripture reading.

Through Lectio Divina, we engage with the Bible and through the Word we commune with God and let His Spirit use His Word to engage us in spiritual transformation. There are four different components to Lectio Divina:
(1) Reading
(2) Meditation
(3) Response in Prayer
(4) Contemplation

Lectio Divina may be done in a group setting or it may be done as a personal spiritual exercise by an individual.

Engage with the passage. Read the passage slowly. If you are doing this in a group setting, have different people read the passage. As you read, let the words that you are reading come alive by observing what you are reading. Observe any repetition. Take note of repetition of words, ideas, patterns or themes. Observe the context. Notice what words are chosen to convey the message. Draw from your own personal experiences and your knowledge of the Scriptures to engage the meaning of the text. Let the Holy Spirit brings up images and related ideas in your mind as you interweave your thoughts to the words that you are reading. It helps to read it ALOUD even if you are doing this by yourself.

Spend some quiet time in silent solitude, focusing on the words, phrases and images that evoke you. Let the words and the text wash over you. Reflect on some of the “why” questions about the passage. Seek to imagine what the original author(s) was/were trying to say with the passage. Recall other lessons you have learned in other parts of Scriptures that you can relate to the teaching of the current passage. Let the word come alive for you. Use your pen or pencil to help you with your meditation and thinking through what you have read.

Re-read the passage. Engage the text and prayer through the text. Spend some time to let the words, phrases and ideas in the text to trigger in you responses to God in prayer. As you meditate on the passage, let the Holy Spirit converse with you and response to His promptings.

Re-read the passage again. Rest in silence in the light of your prayers and meditation on the text. Spend some quiet moments just being in the presence of God.

There are a number of websites with instructions on how to practice "Lectio Divina" in a group setting as well as a personal spiritual discipline. Here is an excllent site.