Lectio Divina

[below is a bulletin article I wrote for the stc church one summer, while I was working with an intern. You may be familiar with the practice, but if you are not, I pray this is helpful & transformational for you.]

// Spiritual Reading //

We have all had those moments, or those days, or those extended period of time when our reading of Scripture is not what it needs to be. It’s dry and stale. There’s nothing new or life-changing in it. We just rehash what we have known for years, and so we come away from our time reading Scripture no different than when we . But what could we expect? We know the stories. We’ve memorized the verses. We have pages and pages of notes. But still, we come away from our study not having been changed or challenged. It becomes routine, ordinary….dare we say boring?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Scripture can and will bring us life and energy as it leads us into deeper relationship with each other and with God. But we have to do more than just read it. We can’t just approach it as a reference book, or a set of facts to be learned. If we want Scripture to change us, we have to allow it to feed, energize, and transform us.

I had the privilege of helping a friend prepare a workshop on reading Scripture in community with the goal of allowing it to be transformation, and I want to share some of that material. There is an ancient approach to the reading of Scripture that may bring new life to you time in the Word. It is most commonly known simply as spiritual reading, or more formally lectio divina. There are four components of this approach—Read. Think. Pray. Live.

READ // Lectio

First of all—we must read the text. Read it slowly. Read it quickly. Read it over and over again. Read it in multiple translations. Savor the metaphors, the similes, all the literary devices and poetic beauty.

THINK // Meditatio

After reading the text, it is absolutely necessary that we meditate and think on the words of God. This meditation moves us beyond looking at the words of the text and entering the world Scripture paints for us. The Psalmist’s words become our words:

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.            Psalm 119v15-16

 

PRAY // Oratio

In our reading of Scripture, we enter a conversation with God, and we must take what we’ve read and thought about to him. We do this with an eye toward the final step of this ancient practice.

LIVE // Contemplatio

The goal of reading Scripture is not knowledge. Knowledge is important….but the real goal is to walk in obedience. We read the text, take in all its beauty, meditate on it and pray about it so that we can live it.

 

Resources

This information was taken largely from Eugene Peterson’s book “Eat this Book” (2006)

Josh Graves has written a book based off of Peterson’s premise. It’s very engaging. “The Feast”

Tony Jones has a book on this same topic, but Peterson handles it more ably. “Divine Intervention”

Patrick Keifert has helped to write a handbook on a related reading practice called dwelling in the word. I have been introduced to the practice of dwelling in the word through my graduate work. It is a communal process that has been nothing short of transformational for me. I haven’t read the book, but my hunch is it will be very good as an introduction to dwelling. “Dwelling in the Word”

 

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