Lectio Divina: A Deep Meditation on God's Word
Studying the Word of God is essential in our walks with the Lord. However, if we’re not careful, we can make studying the Bible an academic pursuit instead of a life-changing encounter with God.
I love to study the Bible inductively, but one practice I do along with inductive study is one called Lectio Divina, which is Latin for “divine reading.” Lectio Divina is an ancient monastic practice of reading the Bible through prayer and meditation. The intention of this practice is to commune with God and learn the Bible. However, it is meant to treat the Bible as God’s living word and not just a text to be studied.
Meditating on God’s Word through Lectio Divina helps me avoid making the Bible an academic pursuit and makes the Bible come alive in my soul by the work of the Holy Spirit.
The practice of Lectio Divina contains four movements: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.
1. Reading (“Lectio”)
Start the reading portion by preparing your heart and mind. Sitting in silence for a minute or two and praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance are great ways to prepare. Remember and consider how reading scripture is an encounter with the living God and an opportunity to hear from him.
When you’re finished preparing, read the passage of scripture several times and read it slowly. Some practice reading by focusing on a different aspect in each reading. The slow, focused reading will allow scripture to enter your heart and mind.
2. Meditation (“Meditatio”)
In meditation, we must be careful to not assign meaning to the passage right away. Instead, we must listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling us about this passage. Meditation means “weighting and considering” the passage. Instead of thinking analytically about the passage, Lectio Divina allows us to enter the scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to our souls.
Meditation should be a conversation with God. There are some questions we can ask and consider to help us through this process:
Dallas Willard, in his book Hearing God, suggests asking the following questions:
Can I visualize this passage? If so, what is happening?
What word or phrase stands out to me? Why does this word or phrase resonate or stand out to me? What words or passages nudge my soul?
Do I find myself in someone or something in this passage? What draws me to this person or object?
What am I thinking and feeling about God as I consider what resonates with me?
How does this passage connect to my life today?
Sometimes it helps if you write down the insights you receive from the Holy Spirit.
3. Pray (“Oratio”)
In this movement, simply talk to God about the passage and what he revealed to you. It is helpful to remain focused on God and his character rather than on ourselves. Though the passage will affect our souls, we can focus on God in prayer. You can also journal your prayer if that helps. Pray whatever you are led to pray.
4. Contemplation (“contemplation”)
The goal of contemplation is to rest your soul in the Lord. Contemplation is God’s invitation for you to simply be with him. In this movement, you should do as you are led by the Holy Spirit. You may want to sit quietly with the Lord and enjoy him or listen to anything the Holy Spirit might be telling you. You may want to reflect on a characteristic of God that spoke to you from the scripture you just read. You may want to reflect on what it is about God that makes you want to worship him and commune with him. Those are just some ideas, but let the Holy Spirit guide you in what is the best way for your soul to rest in God.
The practice of Lectio Divina not only helps us understand scripture, but it helps us develop the discipline of listening to the Holy Spirt, develops humility in us, and allows time for our souls to rest in the Lord.
I hope you find this guide helpful and I pray this tool will help you find rest for your soul in the Lord.
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