“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”Psalm 119:105
Lectio divina is Latin for sacred reading. This ancient Christian practice brings mindfulness to reading the Bible by enveloping it with meditation and prayer. It gives us an opportunity to listen to God, to allow Him to speak to us as individuals.
Even with its Latin name and affiliation with monastic life, lectio divina is not difficult. It’s a four-step process … five if you count preparation.
We should try not to make this a checklist. It’s more like basking in the Bible than studying the Bible. You are reading Scripture to form your development as a child of God, not just to gather information.
So preparation is pretty easy. You need to have a calm mind. You need to be in a place that’s quiet where you can be alone. Then invite the Holy Spirit to be present with you. The Holy Spirit has a significant role in delivering the Word of God’s meaning to you.
Then begin the four steps:
- Read (lectio): Slowly read the Bible verses. Do it several times if you can. Reading out loud may help as well. You also can personalize the verse by inserting your name where the Bible uses “you.”
- Meditate (meditatio): Reflect on the words and phrases in the Scripture. Does anything jump out at you? Or, if it’s more subtle, does a word or phrase draw your attention?
- Respond (oratio): St. Ambrose said, “Let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred Scripture, so that God and people may talk together.” So ask God why a particular phrase or word has caught your attention. Talk with God about what you are hearing or feeling. How does this apply to your life today? Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you, to help you understand.
- Rest (contemplatio): Then sit quietly and listen for God’s response. Rest in His presence with mindfulness. Be quiet. (This is contemplative prayer.) Don’t worry if nothing happens. Sometimes God just wants us to sit with Him. If you feel your mind wandering, quietly repeat the word or phrase that attracted you in the reading.
Try to keep a consistent time and place for practicing. Recommended scriptures to start include:
- Numbers 6:24-26
- Joshua 1:8
- 2 Samuel 22: 31-32
- Psalm 42:1-2
- Psalm 62
- Psalm 73: 25-28
- Psalm 119: 105
- Matthew 16: 24-26
- John 14: 27
- Ephesians 1:15-22