Engaging with Lectio Divina
Within the past year, Bible reading has become a sacred practice for me.
Growing up in the Church, I always heard our Pastor preach the truth about how God’s Word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). I truly believe it to be God-breathed and useful for teaching rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that we, as servants of God, may be thoroughly equipped for His good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
But for years in my faith, I must admit, Bible reading felt a bit… stale.
I never knew where to begin and honestly, some of the passages felt overwhelming and confusing like I was deciphering some kind of coded message.
Have you ever felt like this while reading your Bible, Sis?
Like you know it’s something God invites you into as a way to speak to your heart, but the second you open His pages it just feels rather, obscure?
Well, if you have ever felt this way or you currently feel this way, you’re in good company, friend. The good news is that God does invite you into His Word as a way to teach you, speak to you, and refine you.
It’s where His recorded promises live about His character and who you are in Him.
The Bible is a beautiful story, a powerful tool given to you by God Himself to lead you deeper into Him. And He calls to you now to meet Him in His sacred pages.
What if I told you that Bible reading doesn’t have to feel stale or boring?
What if I told you that reading your Bible can be one of the most intimate and rich places where you can encounter the living God?
Today, I want to introduce you to a Christian spiritual practice that can help you tangibly meet Jesus within the pages of your Bible.
That practice is called Lectio Divina.
Approaching the Word of God
Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading”, and its purpose is to transform Bible reading from a mere duty into deep communion with our Creator as we seek to expand our relationship with Him.
Psalm 19:7-10 shows the beauty that can happen when we choose to approach the Word as it was intended to be approached:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey than honey from the honeycomb.” (NIV)
From this passage alone, God’s intention behind giving us His Word is revealed and we know the following:
- God’s Word is perfect, without blemish or defect, meaning that it can be trusted.
- Reading God’s Word is promised to refresh our weary, thirsty souls.
- God’s Word gives wisdom, guiding us along the right paths.
- God’s Word brings joy to our hearts and light to our eyes.
- The promises contained in His Word are pure, righteous, more precious than gold, and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb.
When we read our Bibles, we aren’t just reading pages of a story. We’re spending time with the Holy Spirit and getting to know Who He is. And, we’re catching glimpses of ourselves through our Creator’s eyes.
Lectio Divina, this act of “divine reading”, was created as a way to go deeper into God’s Word on a very relational level. This method of Bible reading, this way of encountering the Spirit, wasn’t meant to be skimmed through, but ingested and digested ever so slowly.
If you’re feeling a nudging in your spirit to go deeper into the Word, then I believe Lectio Divina is for you. Now, let’s unpack how to engage with the Christian spiritual practice of Lectio Divina.
Engaging with Lectio Divina
In her book, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, Marjorie J. Thompson writes,
“Spiritual reading is reflective and prayerful. It is concerned not with speed or volume but with depth and receptivity… We are seeking formation, not merely information.”
There are times in our Bible reading life when reading big chunks of the Bible at a time is necessary. For example, a year ago, I joined a group of women who wanted to read through the Bible in a year together. That required bigger chunks of the Bible to be read in one sitting and the purpose was to gather information.
But Lectio Divina, or spiritual reading as Marjorie describes it, is meant to be done slowly. It’s meant to encourage an inner stillness, a soft, slow way of digesting God’s Word as He tends to your heart while you meditate on His promises.
Lectio Divina goes deeper than just knowing Bible verses and seeks to penetrate your soul and heart as a way to build a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. It’s a spiritual formation practice that aims to tend to your inner life so that you can look and act more like Christ.
When you’re first beginning this practice, it can be helpful to select a smaller passage of Scripture. In her book, Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton recommends choosing a passage no more than 6-8 verses in length. Try this to begin with, and then maybe as you grow more comfortable with this practice, you can increase your reading length.
There are 4 steps to practicing Lectio Divina, and we’re going to explore each one in-depth.
Step 1: Lectio (Reading)
Translated, Lectio means “reading”, which tells us that the first step in Lectio Divina is to read through a passage of Scripture that you’ve selected. As we talked about earlier, this type of engagement with God’s Word is meant to be done slowly. It’s meant to be very reflective and gently paced; each verse being savored one bite at a time. So, read through the passage of Scripture slowly and try not to rush. You can even do so out loud if that will help you slow down and savor each word, and feel free to read through the passage a few times.
Step 2: Meditatio (Meditation)
Meditatio translates to “meditation”. As you read through the Scripture passage, what words or phrases stick out to you? What words or phrases nudge your heart and speak to you? This could be an indication that God has something to say through these words or phrases that directly relate to your life. Pause as you come to these words or phrases and think about them more deeply. Does anything else come to your mind when you think about these words or phrases? Are you sensing anything in your spirit?
Step 3: Oratio (Prayer)
Translated, Oratio means “prayer”. Now that you’ve slowly and gently read through the passage a few times, and are meditating on certain words or phrases that spoke to you, begin talking to God about what He might be saying. Ask Him to reveal Himself through these words or phrases and ask Him to make clear what He might be saying to you through them. This is also a time where you can thank Him or worship Him as you meditate on His Word. Be open and honest with Him about how you’re feeling, sharing with Him anything that’s on your heart – heavy or light. Oratio is a time of communing with God and letting the Spirit lead as you talk openly with Him.
Step 4: Contemplatio (Contemplation)
Contemplatio translates to “contemplation”. This is when you are invited to rest in God’s presence and receive whatever it is He wants to give you at that moment. Here, you allow yourself to simply be as you surrender to the Divine and His leading. You aren’t required to do anything but be present to the Holy Spirit and allow the words you’ve read and your encounter with the Spirit to wash over you.
An Invitation to Draw Near
Lectio Divina is an invitation to draw near to God in His Word as He so lovingly draws near to you. This sacred practice is a beautiful way to slow down, seek still moments, and behold God’s presence with you in the everyday.
If your morning quiet time routine has grown tedious and tiresome, perhaps give Lectio Divina a try as you ask the Holy Spirit to meet you in the pages of His Word. Or, if your quiet time routine is non-existent, there’s no shame, friend. God invites you to reach for His Word any time of the day, and you have complete access to His presence at all times. So, maybe today is a good day to begin reaching for more of Him through this practice.
As I type these words on the page, I can tangibly feel the overwhelming love that God has for you. He looks at you and all that you are and calls you His Beloved, and there’s nothing you can do that will keep Him from loving you.
Lectio Divina is where you can encounter that love. A pure, sinless love unlike any other that will transform you from the inside out.
His presence is all around you and within you, and He invites you to go deeper still.
A Place to Begin
If you’d like to try Lectio Divina sometime this week, I feel the Lord placing Ephesians 3:16-19 on my heart to give you as a starting point.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (NIV)
If you feel led, read it slowly, savor it, and listen for God to speak.
I’ve created a FREE resource for you in the Resource Library that contains the 4-step process of Lectio Divina. This free guide will walk you through each step and then give you space at the end to record a passage of Scripture and practice Lectio Divina.
Afterward, I would love to hear how your experience went with Lectio Divina and what God had to show you through this passage. If you want to, you can drop a comment below telling me how it went or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would truly love to hear how God is encouraging you through this passage.
My prayer for you as you seek to go deeper in the Spirit through His Word is that you would emerge rooted and established in His love, filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Lectio Divina concludes are Introduction to Christian Spiritual Practices blog series! If you want to read about some other spiritual practices we’ve unpacked, you can do so here. If there’s a spiritual practice that you want to learn more about but you don’t see it listed, comment below and I’ll write a blog post on it 😊