Seek in READING
and you will find in MEDITATION
knock in PRAYER
and it will be opened to you in CONTEMPLATION
– St. John of the Cross, paraphrasing Luke 11:9
Lectio Divina, or “sacred reading,” is an ancient way of prayerfully receiving the Word of God. There are typically four movements:
• Lectio – reading a selected text
• Meditatio – meditating on a specific word or phrase that stands out
• Oratio – speaking to God in prayer, journaling, or sharing with others in a group
• Contemplatio – contemplation… simply “being” with God, resting in God’s embrace without words, awake to the movement of the Spirit.
These guidelines are for individual Lectio. Lectio is a way of prayerful listening, so leave space for silence throughout your time.
To begin, choose the Scripture passage you wish to pray. A few verses are better than a whole chapter. You might start with a short story from the Gospels or a portion of the Psalms. Get in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become attentive. Some people focus for a few moments on their breathing; others have a “prayer word” or “phrase” they slowly recite to become centered. When you are ready, move through the following four phases of interaction with your chosen Scripture:
Phase One – Lectio (reading)
What does the text say?
Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently, out loud. Savor the reading, feel the sensation of words in your mouth. Pay attention to gut-level responses. Does a particular word or phrase stand out? Listen for the “still, small voice” of a portion of the reading that says, “I am for you today.”
Phase Two – Meditatio (meditation)
What does the text say specifically to me at this point in my life?
Take the word or phrase into yourself. Slowly repeat it, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, joys, hopes, memories, and ideas. Let your imagination engage the text. Is there an invitation here from God?
Phase Three – Oratio (prayer)
What do I say to God through the text?
Speak to God in response. Be honest with emotions and thoughts – even perhaps, any resistance you might be experiencing. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Wrestle honestly if you need to. Finally, give to God what you have encountered in your heart today.
Phase Four – Contemplatio (contemplation)
Be still, resting in God’s embrace, letting God work in your spirit.