Lectio Divina is a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures. We can attend "with the ear of our hearts" to our own memories, listening for God's presence in the events of our lives. We experience Christ reaching out to us through our own experiences and memories as they connect with Scripture.
How to Practice Lectio Divina
- Choose a text of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. Many Christians use in their daily lectio divina one of the readings from the eucharistic liturgy for the day (www.usccb.org/nab); others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible.
- Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Sometimes it helps to focus on breathing in order to relax. For some, the practice known as "centering prayer" makes a good, brief introduction to lectio divina. Use whatever method is best for you and allow yourself to enjoy silence for a few moments.
- Lectio (Read): Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the "still, small voice" of a word or phrase that somehow says, "I am for you today." Which word or phrase does your mind keep coming back to? Which seems to resonate with something in your life today? In lectio divina, God does not reach out and grab us; rather, he gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.
- Meditatio (Reflect): Take the word or phrase into yourself. Read the text again with this word or phrase in mind. "Chew on it" and consider how it might apply to your life right now. Do not be afraid of distractions. These memories or thoughts are often connected to what God is saying to you through this Scripture.
- Oratio (Respond): Speak to God. Whether you use words, ideas, or images--or all three--is not important. Talk to God about what you have discovered during your experience of meditation. Give to God what you have found within your heart, and pray in thanksgiving or in need for what you have discovered.
- Contemplatio (Rest): Rest in God's embrace. This is a freeing of oneself from one's own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Open your mind, heart, and soul to the influence of
- God. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary. Feel God's presence with you.
Sometimes in lectio divina, you may return several times to the printed text, either to savor the literary context of the word or phrase that God has given or to seek a new word or phrase to ponder. At other times, only a single word or phrase will fill the whole time set aside for lectio divina. It is not necessary to assess anxiously the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were "performing" or seeking some goal. Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures. Some people find that journaling is a helpful way to focus the prayer of lectio divina.