Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a prayer practice that has four movements—Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest—bookended by Silent Preparation and Incarnating the Word.

Preparation (Silencio):

Begin with a time of silent preparation, which allows you to become quiet in God’s presence and get in touch with your desire to hear from God. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, let your body relax, breathe deeply and become consciously aware of God’s presence. Express your willingness to hear from God by praying silently a simple prayer such as “Come Lord Jesus,” “Here I am, Lord,” or “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” You may even want to light a candle to symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit as your teacher and guide.

First Movement | Read (Lectio):

Read the passage twice out loud slowly, listening for the word or phrase that strikes you, that is addressed to you. This might be a word that stands out from all the rest, causes a visceral reaction or brings about a deep sense of resonance or resistance. The mood is gentle, reflective, with a sense of expectancy that God will speak to you. After the second reading, there is a brief period (one minute) of silence in which you are to remain in the word, savoring it and perhaps repeating the word or phrase softly to yourself without trying to figure out what it means or why it was given.

Second Movement | Reflect (Meditatio):

Read the passage out loud slowly again and in the silence (one minute) that follows the reading of the passage you are invited to reflect on the way in which your life has been touched by this word. You might as yourself: What in your life needed to hear this word today? If the reading is a story, you might ask: Where am I in this story? The reading is followed by a brief period of silence (one to two minutes) in which you are asked to stay present with God with whatever comes. Rather than thinking too much about the passage (this is a real discipline), keep coming back to the word or phrase that has been given.

Third Movement | Respond (Oratio):

As you read the passage a third time, listen for an invitation that might be contained in what you are hearing. Is there an invitation or a challenge for you to respond to? What is your response? This should be your first, most spontaneous response to what you have heard, and it may be expressed directly to God in the prayer that comes most naturally. Perhaps the passage has touched a place of pain, frustration or anger, and you pour out your feelings in the safety of this moment. Perhaps there is a flash of self-knowledge, and you are convicted of some sin. In the silence you feel your remorse and make your confession. At this point you are entering into a personal dialogue with God, “sharing with God the feelings the text has aroused, . . . feelings such as love, joy, sorrow, anger, repentance, desire, need, conviction, consecration.” This is an invitation to pour out your heart in honesty and authenticity. Listen for any invitation from God inviting you to act or respond in some way in response to the word God has given you. Whatever your response, let it find its full expression in the moments of silence that follow (three minutes or so).

Fourth Movement | Rest (Contemplatio):

The passage is read one last time, out loud slowly, and the invitation is for each person to simply rest in God. Like the weaned child in Psalm 131 who has received what it needs from its mother and can now rest with her in peace and quiet, so you rest in God and simply enjoy his presence. Part of what enables this resting is the assurance that God is the One who will enable you to actually do what God is inviting you to do. In the silence that follows this final reading, you simply rest in what you have heard. Marjorie Thompson in her book Soulfeast says, “When our response has been played out in all its fury, angst, or exuberance, we come to a place of rest in God. Here there are no expectations, demands, no need to know, no desire but to be in the Divine Presence, receptive to what God desires to do with us.”

Resolve (Incarnatio):

As you emerge from resting, resolve to incarnate (to live out) or carry your “word” with you into daily life. As you continue to listen to this word in the contest of your ordinary life, you are led deeper into its meaning as you discover what it means for you. In this way the Living Word is being formed in you more fully every day. As a way of supporting your intent to incarnate the word you have been given, you might choose an image, a picture or symbol that you can carry with you to remind you of your word.