In our busy lives, it is all too easy to neglect the devotional aspect of our walk with God. Often I have found my Bible reading to be an exegetical exercise to gain information, or another ‘task oriented’ process. However, in a retreat I recently attended I was introduced to a different approach to the Scriptures — lectio divina.
Lectio divina is a prayerful approach to the Scriptures where we seek to empty ourselves of our own agenda and actively seek engagement with God. It consists of four interrelated steps — lectio, meditation, prayer and contemplation. It is particularly valuable as a devotional exercise with a small group and a facilitator where the facilitator reads the text aloud and gives directions at the beginning of each stage. It can also be utilised for any text, including the ‘text’ of our own lives.
Lectio: slowly read or listen to a short passage of Scripture (perhaps just one or two verses) three or four times seeking to keep an open heart. Allow 1–2 minutes of silence between each reading. Personally, I have found listening to the text rather than reading it gives a different perspective.
Meditation: reflect on the text and allow it to interact with your “thoughts, memories, hopes and desires.” Sometimes a single word or phrase ‘jumps out’. Spend 5–10 minutes reflecting — considering the text’s deeper meaning and what God is saying through it.
Oratio: leads us to the place of prayer, intimate engagement with God and what God has spoken. What is God inviting us to do? Give thanks or praise? Beckoning us towards change? Calling us to action? Spend 5–10 minutes in prayerful response.
Finally, in contemplation we enter a period of stillness where we simply rest in the presence of God, allowing God’s presence to bathe us in God’s peace.
A good place to begin the journey with lectio devina, especially as we enter the season where we reflect on and celebrate the birth of our saviour, could be John 3:16a
“God so loved the world that God gave God’s only son”
Babington, “Lectio Divina and Practical Theological Reflection: A Constructive, Critical, Appreciation,” (Academia.edu, nd).
Lecturer, Tabor Adelaide