A contemplative form of prayer, centuries old, is the key
A year ago, I discovered the Lectio Divina Journal. When it arrived and I began using it, I decided it was a clever way to study the Bible. Monday through Friday there is a brief Bible reading, and then you are encouraged to respond to the reading in a series of four prompts.
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Then, I discovered Lectio: Prayer, a six-part video series on Formed.org, and found that Lectio Divina (aka Sacred Reading) is a contemplative form of prayer, centuries old, developed as a means to allow us to read the Bible and experience it as the Living Word of God, a conversation with God.
The Lectio Divina method of prayer consists of five steps, easy, quick, yet incredibly profound in their results.
In the short time that I’ve made it a part of each morning’s devotions, both my Bible reading and prayer time with God have become exponentially enriched and I am beginning to see this time as truly a conversation with God.
Here are five steps of Lectio Divina:
Silencio – Silence. Quiet your thoughts and allow yourself to enjoy the silence, as you prepare to read the Word of God.
Lectio – Read the Scripture three times, slowly and, if possible, out loud. Why? Reading out loud slows down our natural inclination to breeze through the Scripture. In the second and often third reading, insights that I completely missed in my first reading will finally become clear.
Meditatio – Meditate on what you’ve read. But this is an active meditation. Circle verbs and nouns with an eye for patterns and metaphors that provide a deeper meaning to God’s Word. Just as Jesus often used parables to teach an important lesson, the Psalms often use beautiful imagery to convey an important message.
Oratio – Conversation with God. Now we turn to God, not only with our own thoughts but with an insight into God’s thoughts and wisdom. Our one-sided thoughts can now become a two-sided conversation where we experience God’s guidance, consolation, and grace.
Contemplatio – “Be still and know that I am God.” Here we take a moment to rest in God’s presence and experience the love and insights we have gained from reading and prayer.
From here we are called to put our faith into action. After we draw close to God, we feel compelled to share God’s compassion with others in our community. These are small gifts that we do daily, giving attention to those otherwise ignored. As St. Teresa of Calcutta encouraged, let us be inspired daily to do “small things with great love.”