What is Lectio Divina?

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For the first 1,500 years of church history, lectio divina (Latin for “divine reading”) was the primary spiritual practice people used to be with Jesus. Since most people were illiterate, the reading of Scripture in the church Gathering each week was vital for spiritual growth.

With that in mind, lectio divina is not an exercise in mentally critiquing or exegeting a text rather, this practice exists to further your relationship with Jesus as He invites us into His presence through His Word.

To practice this, walk through the following steps (or movements) in order. You’ll notice this is similar to our how to study the Bible post, with an emphasis on practicing the presence of God.

Relax

This requires a quiet preparation of the heart. Turn off your phone, get away from distraction, slow down, and take a deep breath. We want to unbusy our minds so we can make room to hear the voice of God.

Read (lectio)

Read a Scripture passage slowly. Linger over the words. Read it the same way you would read a letter from a close friend. Pretend the original author is speaking it to you. If it’s a narrative, imagine you’re in the narrative watching this story first-hand. In this step, the goal is not only to see the words, but to feel them.

  • What words caught your attention?

  • What phrases stand out to you?

Reflect (meditatio)

Read the Scripture slowly a second time. Reflect on how the passage/words/phrases might apply to your life. Ask the Spirit for wisdom and discernment.

  • Is it relevant to something that you are going through? 

  • Does it bring to mind a struggle that you have been dealing with? 

  • Do certain people come to mind that God may want you to reach out to or reconcile a relationship with? 

  • Is there a strong sense of a movement or change that needs to happen?  

Respond (oratio)

Read the Scripture a third time. Scripture reminds us that we can approach His presence confidently, so talk to God and let Him what you are feeling.

  • What feelings have the text moved you to? 

  • Where are you resistant or want to push back?

Talk to God about what you’re feeling. If you feel convicted about a poor relationship, go seek reconciliation. If you feel thankful for something, then respond in thankfulness. If you feel specific anxiety about something in your life, present it to the Lord. If you feel convicted about a specific sin, confess that sin to God knowing He is faithful and just to forgive you.

Rest (contemplatio)

After reading, rest and wait in His presence. Allow some time for His Word to sink into your soul. Before you’re done with this practice, you might want to consider writing down what the Lord showed you as a reminder throughout the day.

It’s important to remember the aim of this practice is to just “be” with God. We’re not trying to “get something out of it” so much as we want to simply sit in His presence.

Like other practices, this will seem challenging at first. Stick with it. Eventually, this will get easier as you commit to tending to this practice regularly.

* This resource was adapted from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun and “Lection Divina” at Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/scripture-engagement/lectio-divina/home