The Practice of Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina moves through the quadrants described in our last post, thus making it a form of prayer that is engaging to many sorts of pray-ers. It is a good place to begin an intentional prayer practice, because it gives us a varied experience. And who knows. Maybe it will become your treasured way of praying.

Here's how to do it.

  1. Place. Pick a place that you will regularly use for Lectio.

  2. Time. Consider when during the day you can regularly practice this prayer. Make sure you have at least half an hour when you will be free of obligations or pressure. Then pick four or five days during the week when you will sit down at the same time to engage in Lectio Divina.

  3. Sit for a short time in silence. Silence grounds and focuses us. Let your body relax. Make certain you are comfortable. Put your feet flat on the floor and simply rest. If you have a thought, let it go. This is not the time to pursue feelings or ideas. At the end of this time, silently let God know that your intention is to listen to what God wishes to communicate to you.

  4. A short reading. For these weeks of experiencing Lectio, the readings will be provided. Later, if you love this practice, we can talk about what sorts of readings to bring to it for your focus. Read the passage slowly twice, pausing for a bit between readings. If you're doing this with your beloved, each of you read it once.

  5. Listen for a word from God. As you read, a phrase or even a short sentence will “pop out” at you. Sometimes the tug is strong, sometimes it's the merest hint that you should focus here. If it happens the first time you read the passage through, simply listen in the second reading to be sure this phrase is the one calling to you. If nothing stands out for you in the first reading, or if you get distracted y the details of the reading, listen for the more subtle nudgings when you read the passage through again. Whatever word or passage you choose, trust that this is God's work for you today. And once you have chosen it, stick with it. Ponder the phrase or sentence. What does it mean to you? What does it make you think of? What do you feel as you consider it? What memories come up? How is God using it to speak to you? What is God saying and asking of you?

  6. Respond. Thank God for God's participation with you in pondering. Then allow your head and heart to lead you in a response. It might be an entry in your journal. It could be a worded prayer. Maybe you want to chant or draw something. Perhaps you want to make a plan to call a friend, or maybe you are moved to volunteer at the Food Bank or write a check to ERD. Whatever your response, it is a way of expressing what you have taken in and pondered. It is a way of releasing that conversation with God into your life. It is, therefore, prayer.

  7. Be with God in stillness. As whatever prayer or promise you have made comes to an end, simply be with God in stillness. Sit in silence in God's presence. Soak in the goodness of God's grace. Allow yourself to be lost in prayer, lost in God. Rest in the presence of the living Word. And don't worry if nothing noteworthy happens.

Here are two readings to use in the next two weeks. Use the first for the first week and the second for the second one. If you do Lectio more than five times per week, switch to a short passage from the lectionary for the coming week for the extra times.

Week One: Philippians 4:1-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Week Two: John 10:1-10

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.