Hearing the Word of God in your Heart
Lectio Divina is also called Praying with Scripture, Sacred Reading and Dwelling in the Word
Lectio Divina is reading, reflecting, responding and resting in the word of God that helps one grow into deeper relationship with Christ. May God bless you as you seek to go deeper into relationship with Him and with Christ.
Lectio Divina refers in Latin to the practice of “divine reading.” This form of spiritual reading involves a deeply personal and prayerful encounter with the presence of God through sacred scripture. Lectio invites us to listen to the word of God with our whole being and our longing to be touched, healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit.
When we practice Lectio Divina, we are saying to God or Christ… “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.” We come with an open heart and without an agenda…this allows Christ to do His work in us, as He chooses.
- Where: Make yourself comfortable in a place that is as free from interruptions as possible where you may be alert and prayerfully attentive.
- When: Any time of day works, but many have found that earlier is better.
- Who: Begin with silence for a few minutes, humbly asking God, Christ or the Holy Spirit to bring their loving presence into your awareness.
- What: Ask God for the grace, or gift, specified for each specific time of prayer. A “grace” is simply a gift you desire in prayer such as peace, joy, presence, etc.
- How: Embrace stillness, quiet the heart and mind, turning your focus to God or Christ. Place yourself in the presence of the Living Christ who IS HERE… present and active.
Dispose yourself for prayer in whatever way is natural for you. This may be a spoken prayer to God to open you more fully to the Spirit, a gentle relaxation process that focuses on breathing, singing or chanting, or simply a few minutes of silence to empty yourself of thoughts, images, and emotions.
Usually a few deep breaths will help you relax, then invite the presence of God into your space. Free your mind of any troubling thoughts and quiet your mind. Declare your dependency upon God and ask him for the grace for that particular time of prayer. Allow your body to completely relax in an attentive state.
‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’ (Mark 1:35)
The Movements of Lectio Divina
(1) REPOSE: (reposition)
Begin by relaxing and resting in the presence of Christ. Place yourself in God’s loving gaze or the light of God’s love.
- Invite the Spirit of Christ
- Settle into the Body
- Still the Soul
- Quiet the Mind
(2) READING (lectio)
- Slowly begin reading aloud the selected Biblical passage as if it were a long awaited love letter addressed to you. Approach it mindfully, reverentially and expectantly, in a way that savors each word and phrase.
- Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, allowing short pauses between sentences. Read the passage twice out loud. After the first time notice what words or phrases stand out to you. The second time read the passage until you hear a word or phrase that touches you, resonates, attracts or even disturbs you. At that point, pause and enter reflection and listen with the ear of your heart.
- Read with a vulnerable heart. Expect to be blessed in the reading. Read as one awake, one waiting for the Beloved. Read with reverence.
(3) REFLECTING (meditatio)
Ponder this word or phrase for a few minutes. (If one word or phase didn’t stand out to you, just choose a word). Let it sink in slowly and deeply until you are resting in it. Listen for what the word or phrase is saying to you at this moment in your life, what it may be offering to you, what it may be demanding of you. Try NOT to control it or fight it. Just sit and receive what the spirit is saying to you. You may have images come to mind that illustrate the text.
(4) RESPONSE (oratio)
When you feel ready, openly and honestly express to God the prayers that arise spontaneously within you from your experience of this word or phrase. These may be prayers of thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lament, or praise.
(5) REST (contemplatio)
Allow yourself to simply rest silently with God for a time in the stillness of your heart remaining open to the quiet fullness of God’s love and peace. This is like the silence of communion between the mother holding her sleeping infant child or between lovers whose communication with each other passes beyond words. In rest, the pray-er takes no action other than to be present and rest in the presence of Christ.
It is strongly advised to write down significant thoughts, feelings, or reactions in a journal.
These movements of praying with Scripture may not always follow a linear progression. Allow yourself freedom and pray as you can. The aim is to move into the depths of silence and stillness where we can hear the Word spoken to us in love and respond to this Word with our love and our life. This is a gentle invitation into a movement from silence into the Word and back into silence, dwelling there in the presence of Christ.
A word about distractions:
Try not to become overly concerned or discouraged by distractions during prayer…they are natural and happen to everyone. If you are new at this form of prayer it does take some practice to improve at focus and concentration. When you find yourself distracted, simply put the distractions aside and return to the prayer material. Some people find it helpful to keep a pad of paper beside them to jot down the distraction and once it is written down, put out of the mind. If and when a distraction persists, it may be a call to attend prayerfully to the object or the distraction. Sometimes unresolved conflicts will continue to surface until it has been addressed. Often it is helpful to discuss deeper issues with someone who mentors your faith or can pray over you.
A few helpful tips:
(1) Begin with silence, centering yourself within the presence of God or Jesus, imagine He is lovingly gazing upon you, and quiet yourself while sitting comfortably in a position of “relaxed attention.” It is not recommended to be reclining or lying down.
(2) During the lectio or reading part it is helpful to read ALOUD.
(3) During the “Reflecting” or “meditatio” part…try not to control it…just listen with the “ear of your heart.”
(4) Some who practice Lectio Divina have found that they enjoy and benefit from journaling after the second and third readings. However, only journal after you are done…after you have “rested” or “contemplatio.”
(5) Reposition, Read 2xs, Reflect, Respond, Rest, and Record.
Week 1: Changed by the Power of Christ
- Day 1: Romans 5:6-11 Jesus dies for me
- Day 2: II Corinthians 5:14-21 I am a new creation in Christ
- Day 3: Ephesians 4:17-32 I am made new in the attitude of my mind
- Day 4: Colossians 3:1-17 My life is now hidden with Christ in God
- Day 5: Ephesians 2:1-10 I am made alive in Christ
- Day 6: Ephesians 2:13-22 I am brought near to God through the blood of Christ
- Day 7: John 15:9-17 I am Christ’s Friend
Week 2: Transformed by the Mind of Christ
- Day 1: Psalm 130 & 131-Sit still before the Lord
- Day 2: Psalm 42-Put your hope in God
- Day 3: Psalm 73:16-17, 23-28-He is at our right hand
- Day 4: II Timothy 2:1-13 Call for endurance
- Day 5: Isaiah 43:1-7 Created for His glory
- Day 6: Philippians 4:1-9 Think about such things
- Day 7: Job 42:1-6 Job’s response to the Lord
Other verses to pray with Lectio Divina:
- Psalm 131
- John 4: 1-26
- John 4: 27-38
- John 4:39-42
- Isaiah 44:2-5
- Joel 2:29-32
- Mark 1:4-13
- John 20:19-23
- Matt 3:11
ALSO ON LECTIO DIVINA: