In a context of a busy world where so much is rushed, Lectio Divina is wisdom from the fourth century inviting us to slow down. Slow down, that is, and allow God to speak to us through the words of Scripture.
In Lectio Divina, we read God’s Word quietly and intently, allowing time and space for God to speak in the moment. Those who spend time with Lectio Divina often find that they begin to hear God speak in the stillness. God speaks words about his love for us, his hopes for us, his care for us in our everyday lives; he speaks words which invite us to repentance, to trust, and to obedience.
Often, we think of Bible reading as the beginning of a conversation in which we speak with one another about God. There is nothing wrong with this. But Lectio Divina is different. It invites us to see a Biblical passage as the beginning of a conversation with God.
We might describe Lectio Divina as four ways of relating to the Biblical text. We do each in turn.
First of all, we choose a Biblical passage, and we give time to simply sitting with the passage. If we want to learn to do this, we need to give ourselves time and space to learn – this is all about slowing down. The aim is to sit with the passage in companionable silence. We read the Bible passage slowly and quietly several time. Towards the end of the time we are doing this, we look to see whether any word or phrase jumps out to us, or lifts its head above the parapet.
Secondly, we look at the words of phrases which have spoken to us, and we ask what the passage might be saying to me here and now? What is the passage saying to my heart? And how do I feel about it? It can help to say this out loud, or to write in a journal.
Next, we take these questions, and any tentative answers we have, into prayer, giving time to speak with God and to listen for God to speak with us.
Fourthly, and finally, we recall that the aim of lectio Divina is to allow the Biblical passage to soften our hearts so that God can form us. So after our prayer time comes to a close, we try to come back to the text again later in the day. Perhaps we might allow our mind to return to a word or phrase from the reading later in the day – say, when we’re sitting on the train, or loading the dishwater, or brushing our teeth. Or we might return to one of the questions or challenges or encouragements which the text offered to us.
However we do all of this, the aim is to allow God to speak to us through the passage during our prayer time and also in the humdrum of our lives. In this way, the Bible can form us, even transform us, helping to us become the people God wants us to be.