Lectio Divina, Latin for Divine Reading, is a technique formalized in the 12th century that combines reading, prayer, and meditation into one simple process. All too often we separate these things; we read our bible some, then we pray some, but we don’t necessarily view them as a unified process.
Lectio Divina is more about listening to the word of God rather than just reading it.
Many times we almost have an internal checklist for our prayers; what do I need from God, what do other people need help with, and what can I thank God for. Prayers like these are fine, but Lectio Divina is aimed at being less transactional and more like a deep conversation with God that involves pondering His truths.
Don’t think about this process as a sequential path, with reading at the beginning, then reflection next, and so on. Lectio Divina is more of an interwoven cycle, where you are free to bounce between modes as the Spirit leads.
This process also shouldn’t be viewed as a study or a theological analysis of the scripture. Instead, the goal is to view the scriptures in an emotional way, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit being at the center of the process and guiding you along.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” -John 14:27
Richard Foster talks about this verse in his book Meditative Prayer. Instead of focusing on what the historical context was when Jesus said this or asking why Jesus spoke those words at the Last Supper, we should instead focus on actually accepting the peace of Christ and try to rest in the peace that He left us.
Also, you can spend as little or as much time on a step as you need. You may begin reading, and stop after half a sentence because you hit something really good, or after you read you may want to reflect on the words for a long time - this is a very flexible process and that is okay.
So instead of explaining what each of the four R’s mean...
Focus on Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Before reading, take a second to calm your mind and imagine yourself resting in his presence. Ask God to help you focus on Him in this time.
Now, read the verse until a specific word or phrase stands out. You may only read to the word “refuge” before you want to camp out and think about how God is your refuge. Spend time reflecting on what sticks out to you.What do you picture when you think about a refuge? What do you need a refuge from?
This naturally transitions into the third step, responding to God. After you think about what you need a refuge from, simply respond to God and ask Him to be your refuge, instead of the other negative things you might tend to do when times are tough. Then, just rest in those truths about God. He is your refuge. He has a plan for you and is protecting you right now.
Feel free to toggle back to more responding or reflecting if you feel like it, then back to rest as needed, you don’t necessarily have to go to step one and do more reading.
When you feel stuck or don’t know what to do, this is a great method to try out. Below are some verses that have been hand-picked for their suitable nature for Lectio Divina, but you can do this process on any sections of the Bible you want to.