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Lenten Practice #3: Lectio Divina

Lectio divina (sacred reading) is slow, intentional, prayerful reading of Scripture. It is a very ancient way of reading the Bible, with distinct “movements” which help us to clear our minds and become aware of God’s presence with us as we read.

Choose a short passage of Scripture to read (there are suggestions at the bottom of this post). Then spend some time centering yourself, clearing your mind and preparing for the reading. You might try repeating a short phrase to yourself during this time, such as: “Come, Lord Jesus” or “Speak to me, God, for I am listening.” Then, proceed through the movements.

*The instructions below are adapted from instructions written by Ruth Haley Barton at the Transforming Center.

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Read (lectio): Read the passage slowly (aloud if possible). As you read, acknowledge what lingers in your mind; an image from the passage, a word or phrase, an emotion. Take a few minutes after the reading to take note of these things.

Reflect (meditatio): Read the passage again, slowly. As you read, reflect on the things that lingered with you from the first movement. If the passage is a story, perhaps ask yourself, “Where am I in this scene? What do I hear as I imagine myself in the story or hear as I imagine these words addressed specifically to me? How do the dynamics of this story connect with my own life experience?”

Respond (oratio): Read the passage again, slowly. With this reading, allow yourself to answer those questions from your reflection as a form of prayer to God. You might consider writing them down in a journal, drawing, or speaking your prayer out loud.

Rest (contemplatio): Read the passage one final time. In this final reading, let yourself relax and be present in the moment. Trust that what you think and feel in this time is God’s presence with you.

Scripture Recommendations:

  • Psalm 103:6-14
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • Isaiah 58
  • Luke 24:13-25
  • Philippians 2:1-11
  • James 1:14-26
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