Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina:
Lectio Divina means “divine reading.” It is an ancient practice of praying with the scriptures. During Lectio Divina, the practitioner listens to the text of the Bible with the “ear of the heart,” as if they are in conversation with God, and God is leading the topics for discussion. The method of Lectio Divina includes:
- Moments of reading (lectio).
- Reflecting on (meditatio).
- Responding to (oratio).
- Resting in (contemplation) the Word of God to nourish and deepen One’s relationship with the Divine.
Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer:
Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer are two distinct prayer forms. Lectio Divina is a reading, reflecting, responding, and resting in the Word of God that helps one grow in relationship with God. Centering Prayer is a method of Prayer in which we consent to rest in God’s presence. This Prayer moves us beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him and prepares us to receive the gift of contemplation. Lectio Divina is a gift to Centering Prayer. As our relationship with God deepens, we will be renewed in our intention to rest with God in Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is a gift to Lectio Divina as it frees us from obstacles to hear the Word of God on a much deeper level in Lectio Divina.
Lectio Divina and Bible Study:
Bible Study is the reading of the scriptures for information and an understanding of the passage’s context. It provides a solid conceptual background for the practice of Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is a reflective reading of Scripture and a method of Prayer that leads us into the deeper meaning of Scripture and the transformation of our lives. A contemplative reading of the Scriptures is compatible with a well-grounded interpretation of the Bible, and Lectio Divina is concerned with reading for transformation.
Step by step through Lectio Divina
Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6).
To start Lectio-Divina, you will first find a quiet place free from distraction (as much as possible). Sit quietly with your Bible, close your eyes, and place yourself in the loving presence of Jesus.
One way of doing this is slowly repeating the name of Jesus in your heart or quietly out loud or using the “Lord’s prayer” Take a passive stance and allow yourself to be taken by Him. After all, He loves you more than you could ever imagine and desires to reveal Himself. The Bible, or Holy Scripture, is God’s words about Himself. These divine words testify and point us to the Divine Word: Jesus Christ, the Savior. Remember, the Bible was a gift from the Lord to His Bride, the Church. Sacred Scripture was written for YOU. To pray with the Bible is a genuine encounter with the Lord.
Read the passage attentively, reverently, and slowly. Lectio is a listening reading that patiently waits in trust for the Word (Jesus) to reveal Himself. Prayer means to open yourself. We recognize that we cannot contain or control the divine mystery. Allow yourself to be taken in by the words and be drawn towards the Word, Jesus Christ.
Depending on what happens, you might read the passage several times or linger on one phrase or Word. Whatever you do, please don’t rush through it. Praying takes time, patience, and perseverance; it takes effort and cooperation with the grace of the Lord. St. Ignatius of Loyola said:
It’s true that the voice of God, having once fully penetrated the heart, becomes intense as the tempest and loud as the thunder, but before reaching the heart, it is as weak as a light breath, which scarcely agitates the air. It shrinks from noise and is silent amid agitation.
This stage is our human response to God’s words. Here, we ponder and meditate on what was read. Quietly savor the Word and meditate upon it in expectation. Remember, Jesus wants to reveal Himself and pull you closer to Him.
Consciously open yourself to the Lord, allowing Him to touch your heart. Seek Him whom you love. Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. In meditation, God can deepen your faith, rapidly convert your heart, and strengthen your will to follow Christ. A question to ask yourself is, “What does this Word mean for my life? What do I need to change?” Notice this isn’t “star gazing,” but an honest accounting of our lives and always directed outward to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is the Prayer of the heart. It is unique, personal, honest, and spontaneous, specific to the experience of encountering God in his Word. It can be abandonment to the will of God, like Mary: “Thy will be done.” It is a response to the Word from the center of our hearts, and it may be in words or even just a sigh of love.
- You are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light, and causes me to know your truth. (St. Catherine of Siena)
- O God, give me stillness of soul in you. Rule me, O King of gentleness, King of peace. (St. John of the Cross)
- Take, Lord, And Receive All My Liberty, My Memory, My Understanding, And My Entire Will, All I Have and Possess. You Have Given All to Me; To You, O Lord, Now I Return It; All Is Yours, Dispose of Me Wholly According to Your Will. Give Me Only Your Love and Your Grace, For This Is Enough for Me. (St. Ignatius Of Loyola)
This stage is God’s response to us, which is beyond our control. We cannot create contemplation by ourselves. It is a divine gift that the Lord, in His goodness, gives us. In contemplation, one is passive, held by the mystery of God. Essentially, it’s a gaze, God’s gaze into us and our gaze of faith back at Him. Your whole self becomes focused on the Lord. It is nothing more than a close sharing between friends. It is deep, intimate, intense, sometimes tearful, and often too deep for words. It is childlike. It is a surrender to the loving will of the Father in an even more profound union with His beloved Son.
His gaze purifies our hearts, illumines our eyes to see with the eyes of Jesus, and teaches us compassion for our neighbor. The aim is to allow the Holy Spirit to shape us into the form of the Son. It is not weird, unusual, or exceptional, but rather the typical fruit of the devoted and faithful practice of Lectio Divina. Devotion to Prayer leads anyone to a personal union with God.
- Learn to abide with attention in loving waiting upon God in a calm state. Contemplation is a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which, if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love. – St. John of the Cross
- Contemplative Prayer is nothing but a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him, who we know loves us. – St. Teresa of Avila-
- Prayer is sowing, contemplation of the reaping of the harvest when the reaper is filled with wonder at the ineffable sight of the beautiful ears of corn, which had sprung up before him from the little naked seeds that he sowed. – St. Isaak of Syria
- The grace of contemplation is granted only in response to a longing and insistent desire. St. Bernard of Clairvaux
- I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the heart of God. – – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque