Seek in READING,
and you will find in MEDITATION,
knock in PRAYER,
and you will find in CONTEMPLATION.
– St. John of the Cross’ paraphrase of Luke 11:9
Lectio Divina is an ancient practice of praying the Holy Scripture. The word Lectio Divina is a Latin phrase that means divine or sacred reading.
Lectio Divina dates back to the 4th and 5th century Desert Mothers and Fathers as well as St. Benedict, whose rule of life was largely influenced by the Desert ascetics. Though this practice is one of the oldest forms of monastic prayer, you can find it still practiced in monasteries today.
This sacred reading is a slower, more reflective reading of Scripture, which has a flow toward a deeper relationship and encounter with God. It involves listening to the sacred text with the heart, rather than the intellect alone.
The method of Lectio Divina has a rhythm of hearing the word read, silence, and then reflection. The reading of the text occurs four times within four movements known as: reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio) and resting in (contemplatio). The final step is taking the word we received with us into our everyday lives with a resolve (incarnatio) to live it out in concrete ways.
- Prepare – Let your body relax and allow yourself to become consciously aware of God’s presence with you in the present moment.
- Read – Listen for the word or phrase that shimmers or jumps out at you and savor it.
- Reflect – How this word is touching your life? What in your life needed to hear this word?
- Respond – Engage in dialogue and share your heart-felt response with God.
- Rest – Rest in your experience with the sacred text with a grateful heart.
- Select an image or a picture or a symbol that you can carry around with you as a constant reminder of the word that was given to you.
- Journaling can be an excellent compliment to this practice as you dialogue with God.
- Audible resources can be very helpful with this practice. Participating in this practice with a partner to read the selected text can be very meaningful and helpful.
Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina, by Thelma Hall (Also contains 500 scripture texts for prayer, grouped topically)
The Lectio Divina – The Sacred Art: Transforming Words & Images into Heart-Centered Prayer, by Christine Valters Paintner
Contemplative Reading: Experiencing God Through Scripture Reading, by Richard Rohr
Sacred Pilgrim Spiritual Direction by Laura Knowles Cavanaugh – This podcast offers guided lectio divina readings on scripture and other spiritual texts.