Lectio Divina Instructions
Read with a vulnerable heart. Expect to be blessed in the reading. Read as one awake, one waiting for the Beloved. Read with reverence. Macrina Wiederkehr
“Lectio Divina” is Latin for “spiritual reading” or “holy reading”. It is the ancient prayer practice that allows us to encounter the Living God through His written Word.
When we practice Lectio Divina, we are saying to God… “Here I am. I am listening. I want You to speak into my life, for I know that when You do, I will be helped, healed and changed.”
In Lectio Divina, we come with an open heart and without an agenda… this allows God to do His work in us, as He chooses.
We begin by quieting our heart and mind and turning our focus to God. It helps me to remember that I am entering into the presence of the Living God who is HERE… present with me in this place, this holy space. I let everything else go, as best as I can, and set the time aside for being with God and hearing His voice.
The simple prayer practice of Lectio Divina takes us through four movements, as we are drawn closer to God through each prayerful reading of the chosen passage.
Choose a short passage- just a few verses. (Use our list of scriptures, or choose something yourself. We recommend the Book of Psalms in the Bible, or a story from one of the Gospels. If you don’t have a Bible and would like one, call or email and we’ll have one on the way to you at no charge!)
Make yourself comfortable in a place that is as free from interruptions as possible. Begin with silence for a few minutes, humbly asking God to quiet your heart and make you aware that you are in His loving presence.
When you are ready, begin reading and praying through the four movements, described below with both the Latin and English word that summarizes each one. With time and practice, these movements will become so simple and easy, because they flow naturally from one to the other:
Lectio (READ): On the first reading, simply open yourself to the presence of God. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, allowing short pauses between sentences. (Over time you will discover whether it is more helpful for you to read silently or out loud- try them both…) As you read, take in the words and the overall flow of the passage. Then allow a time of silence following the reading- continue to open yourself to the Spirit of God.
Meditatio (REFLECT): On the second prayerful reading of the passage, listen for a particular word or a phrase through which God wants to speak to you. You will notice your attention being drawn to something (or if this doesn’t happen, just choose a word). Once you have “received” the word or phrase, begin to silently meditate on that. Reflect on why God would highlight this for you today, ask Him any questions that come to mind, and note things that seem important as you meditate on what He has given you. Remember that the focus is on listening to what God has to say to you.
Oratio (RESPOND): On the third prayerful reading of the passage, listen now for God’s invitation, and respond from your heart. The Living God is always inviting us in some way… to let go of something, or to take up something; to do something or be something… the invitation can take innumerable forms. Following the reading, continue to listen for His invitation and then respond silently or out loud from an honest heart.
Contemplatio (REST): The focus of the fourth prayerful reading of the passage is to simply rest now in the love that God has for you. Let the words wash over you- there is no further need to reflect or respond- allow God’s Spirit to draw you close and fill you with His love, grace and peace. Linger in this place of deep connection, for you are being filled and refreshed for your continuing journey.
We encourage you to take a word, phrase or image with you when it is time to return to the day… something to which you can return throughout the day… something that will remind you of the love of God for you, and the special message He had for you today.
1. Some who practice Lectio Divina have found that they enjoy and benefit from journaling after the second and third readings.
2. If you live in Sonoma County, come and experience group Lectio Divina. You can check our calendar for the next gathering.
3. To learn more about Lectio Divina:
(a) Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina, by Thelma Hall, Paulist Press, New York, 1988. (Also contains 500 Scripture texts for prayer, grouped topically.)
(b) Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, by Marjorie J. Thompson, Westminster John Knox Press, 1995. (See chapter two, entitled “Chewing the Bread of the Word- the Nature and Practice of Spiritual Reading.”)