Lectio Divina – Encountering the Living Word
Praying with Scripture – known as lectio divina – involves cultivating the ability to listen deeply with “the ear of the heart” (Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict), allowing the voice of God to pierce to the core and transform us. This kind of deep interior listening requires slowing down, becoming still and attuning our hearts to the still small voice of God who speaks personally and intimately to us in the here and now.
This way of praying recognises the word of God as living and active – a means to encounter with the risen Christ. By praying regularly with Scripture, we begin to allow our minds and hearts to be remade and transformed in the likeness of Christ, the Word of God: “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this passing world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed” Romans 12:2. Like the Potter working upon the clay, lectio is a means to allowing God’s creative touch upon us – God who never ceases in his creative work with us, forming and reforming us into a New Creation in Christ; forming the mind of Christ within us.
“Humbly welcome the Word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the Word tells you and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves. Anyone who listens to the Word and takes no action is like someone who looks at his own features in a mirror and, once he has seen what he looks like, goes off and immediately forgets it. But anyone who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and keeps to it – not listening and forgetting, but putting it into practice – will be blessed in every undertaking.” James 1:21ff
How to Practice Lectio Divina:
- Choose a Bible text. You may want to choose a particular book of the Bible such as a Gospel or a letter of St Paul to work through slowly each day, or take the daily readings from the lectionary.
- Prepare yourself for prayer by recognising you are in the loving presence of God, and welcoming his Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures and can illuminate our reading of them today.
- Once you feel still and centred, read the text slowly.
- As you read and re-read the text, listen attentively and reverently to the word as it resonates with a deeper movement of grace within.
- If a word or phrase stands out for you or speaks personally to you, stay with this line, meditating upon it by repeating it over gently to yourself so the words echo within you.
- If nothing strikes you, slowly reflect upon each line individually.
- Your meditation may bring up to the surface thoughts, memories, feelings, new understanding. Through this process, the word of God becomes like the “two-edged sword” that cuts deep: it begins to show us the Truth, to mould and transform us. The word leads us on a journey of inner conversion into the likeness of Christ.
- Naturally, meditation should lead you into a conversation with God: offer to him the thoughts, reflections, reactions you have had to the text. Hear his invitation to act upon his word.
- Finish just by resting in God’s presence: “Be still and know that I am God”.
If we pray in this way regularly it becomes an attitude enabling us to hear God speaking to us in every moment of our life. We become in-tune with his will, and increasingly open to his transforming power.