Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)
January 22, 2021 @ 5:15 PM by: Jennifer Frank
by Rev. Abby Davidson
Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind”
- Matthew 22:37
How do love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? Ruth Haley Barton asks this question in her book “Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation”. She offers the practice of Lectio Divina to engage, not only our mind, but our hearts as well. Barton compares the practice to that of reading a love letter. When you read a newspaper, you are looking for the facts and main points, skimming over the details. When you read a love letter, you savour every word, maybe even stopping to ponder what the author meant by a certain word or phrase. This is how we approach our bible reading with Lectio Divina. It’s a practice that serves to deepen your relationship with God. It asks the question “God, what do you want to say to me right now?” or “What do I need to hear from you at this point in my day?”.
Lecitio Divina can be done in a group or on your own. I always enjoy a group setting as it’s amazing how different people will have very different responses are to the same passage. It reminds me that God sees us all and speaks to us in different ways.
Here are the steps involved in Lectio Divina (taken from Sacred Rhythms, chapter 3):
Read (Lectio): Listen for the word or phrase that is addressed to you as you read (silently or aloud). Allow for silence at the end of your reading. Don’t try too hard! Be honest with yourself about what stands out to you and don’t try to judge or analyze.
Reflect (Meditatio): How is my life touched by this word? Once you have a word or phrase, read the passage again and listen for the way this passage connects with your life. Allow for silence as you explore your thoughts and perceptions.
Respond (Oratio): What is my response to God based on what I have read and encountered? Read the passage again and listen for your truest response. Allow for silence and then pray what is on your heart. Pay attention to how God might be inviting you to respond to him.
Rest (Contemplatio): Rest in the Word of God. Read again, and release all that you have gleaned so you can simply rest in God.
Resolve (Incarnatio): Incarnate or live out the Word of God. As you emerge from this place of personal encounter with God to life in the company of others, resolve to carry this word with you and live it out in the context of daily life and activity.
You can get a full explanation of Lectio Divina and an opportunity to practice it, by listening to Sunday’s sermon.