This method of prayer goes back to the early monastic tradition. There weren’t Bibles for everyone and not everyone knew how to read. So the monks gathered in chapel to hear a member of the community reading from the scripture. In this exercise they were taught and encouraged to listen with their hearts because it was the Word of God that they were hearing.
Lectio Divina is not about study, knowledge or learning but about connecting with something deeper within ourselves. It’s a really useful way not only to read the Bible, but any kind of prose or poetry.
Although the monks had the Bible read to them, it’s not necessary to be with others to enjoy Lectio Divina. It helps to read the passage out loud so that the words are heard by your ears rather than just internally – it’s surprising what a difference this makes!
Read the passage, prose or poetry through two or three times and then pause to recall any words of phrases that stand out or reach the heart in some way. Then go back to read again with this recollection in mind. Remember to stay away from analysing or studying, simply let your heart connect with the words.
As you read and pause, be aware of any response you want to make towards God or God towards you. What is being offered or invited? How does God want to meet you here?
With some passages, pose or poetry it may be possible to “enter” the scene of what is being read. You become a participant in what’s happening. This can be particularly helpful with some of the Jesus stories. Perhaps you’re reading about Jesus miraculously feeding 5000 people and become one of those hungry hoard…
Where are you in the scene?
What’s it like being there?
What does the food taste like that you’ve been given?
What can you see?
Where’s Jesus in relation to you?
What senses are operating and what does it feel like being part of the thousands?
Perhaps you’re one of the two walking with Jesus along the road to Emmaus…
How do you feel as you encounter this man?
What’s it like walking in the heat and dust?
What’s it like to have your “heart burning?”
How do you feel when you realise it was Jesus and he disappears?
Whenever you finish a Lectio practice it can be helpful to journal what has come up for you, to write about how you’ve been met by God and any thoughts or feelings in relation to what you read and encountered.
Finally, if there’s time finish with a 10 minute quiet contemplation as a way for God to work. Simply sit in stillness, letting thoughts go and letting yourself be.