Lectio Divina is…..
not a new Italian cuisine. It’s an old way for individuals to get closer to Jesus. It has been proven through the centuries and is sure to aid your spiritual life. You can also use this spiritual exercise in groups.
Lectio Divina is…..
a very ancient art, a prayer pattern once taught to all Christians long before the Church split to the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Coptic churches. This form of prayer is a rhythm between active and passive prayer, a gentle swinging back & forth like a pendulum between “activity” and “receptivity”.
Lectio Divina means…..
“Divine Word”, or divine reading. Lectio Divina is Latin for “holy reading.” It is a method for listening to God. In a time when we seem preoccupied with chattering away at the Lord, a method which helps us listen to him is a needed corrective. It’s particularly valuable because it utilizes Scripture as the conduit for hearing God speak. As the early church leader Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” and this method of approaching the Lord allows us to know him fully.
This is a slow, contemplative praying of Scripture. This type of prayer brings us into union with God. It is a “rhythm” of prayer that can be practiced throughout our day. This can be done alone, or in a group setting.
Another word for this is Centering Prayer. This type of prayer “centers” us on the Word of God.
In Lectio Divina, we offer ourselves to God. We fall into a rhythm of activity & passivity which spirals us ever closer to God. We become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s rhythm and discover many ways of experiencing God’s presence. It stretches us to discover many different ways of praying.
There was a symbol used for lectio divina. It was a circle cut into 4 sections by the cross. The circle represents the “circular” form of prayer. Though the 4 parts of lectio divina could be prayed one after the other, it also could be entered at any point and ended at any point.
There are 4 parts of Lectio Divina:
- LECTIO – reading and listening to the Word. This begins with our reading and listening deeply. Not only do we listen with our ears, we also listen with our spirit. We don’t read the Bible like we read the newspaper or a book. We come to the understanding that what we’re reading is the WORD OF GOD! This is God’s Word, speaking to us. We read it reverentially. We listen to the Holy Spirit’s still small voice as we read. We read this not once, but 2, 3, 4 times. As we read, we allow the Holy Spirit speak to us.
- MEDIATIO – meditation on the Word. Of course the ancient word for “meditation” is the same word to describe a cow chewing it’s cud. This is how we must see ourselves. We “chew” on the Word. When Mary heard that she was to become the mother of Messiah, it says in Luke 2:19 that “she was pondering in her heart”. This is where we should be. We memorize the Word, allow what we read speak to us. We repeat it over & over in our hearts, allow the Word to soak deeply into us. We allow the Word to interact with us, bring up memories or thoughts, allow the Holy Spirit to touch those memories. Through this we allow the Spirit to speak to deepest part of ourselves.
- ORATIO – praying the Word out loud. Of course this is exactly what it sounds like! We take the Word, make it our prayer. This is an outward form of prayer, not a silent prayer. We speak to God through His Holy Word, we voice whatever is on our hearts & souls. We intercede for those who need to prayed for. We rejoice and praise God through the words that have been written for us thousands of years ago.
- CONTEMPLATIO – contemplation on the Word. Another word for contemplation is “rest”. We rest in God’s Word. We practice letting go. We don’t need to think or pray or meditate or do anything! We just sit back and allow the Holy Spirit wash over us. This is what some today call “soaking” prayer. People today may believe they discovered a “new” thing, but actually it is very old. This is a time when we SOAK in God’s Presence. We don’t “DO” anything. We enter into God’s rest.
A Brief History
The earliest Christians practiced a form of Lectio Divina. For example, in about 250 A.D. Cyprian of Carthage wrote a letter to a man named Donatus and suggested he be, “Constant in prayer as in reading; speak with God, then let him speak with you. Let him instruct you in his precepts, let him direct you.”
John of the Cross referred to “lectio divina” when he wrote: “Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation”.
Theresa of Avila taught this to her order.
The Lectio Divina method has been advocated and practiced by a wide range of Christians over the centuries, including the Benedictine monks, Martin Luther and John Wesley.
Rev. Audrey McIntyre
House of Good Hope, Inc.
P.O. Box 4042
Hartford CT 06147-4042