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lectio divina

Lectio Divina is an ancient form of “sacred reading” the living words of Scripture. Unlike the common approach to reading the Bible, looking for things to learn or answers to our questions, Lectio Divina is a practice of listening with the ears of our heart to a short passage (usually 3 or 4 verses is best), opening to the Spirit speaking to us directly and specifically through this passage. It is a contemplative practice because it positions us to encounter God and be encountered by God. There are four movements in Lectio Divina. You will need a journal/paper, pen or pencil, and a Bible.

The following is a suggested passage to reflect on, but feel free to choose another passage, if you like. Typically the most helpful selections are short passages from the Psalms, Gospels, or biblical narratives; no more than a handful of verses that you can follow with an attentive heart. Begin by sitting tall, grounding your feet, and breathing deeply until you are settled and centered. Then begin by reading the passage once through to become familiar with it.


Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

Read (Lectio): Read the passage through slowly and contemplatively. Listen for the word or the phrase that is addressed to you. Write it down or circle it.

Reflect (Meditatio): Read the passage again, slowly and meditatively. Listen for where this word or phrase connects with your life. Ask, “What in my life needs to hear this word or phrase?” “How is my life touched by this word or phrase?” Write down your real and honest thoughts.  

Respond (Oratio): Read the passage a third time, slowly and thoughtfully, listening for your own deepest and truest response. Allow a natural conversation with God to flow from your engagement with this passage and its personal meaning. Contemplate, “What is my response to God based on what I have read and heard from the Spirit?” Write it down.

Rest (Contemplatio): Read the text one final time, resting in God, yielding to him, and savoring what you have received.

Resolve (Incarnatio): As you come to the end of your time, resolve to carry this word into the context of your life today. Keep listening for deeper insight and understanding. Treasure the gift that God has given and watch for ways in which God continues to speak.  


(Revised from Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, pg. 60, 61)

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