Contemplating the Scriptures with Lectio Divina

Contemplating the Scriptures with Lectio Divina

To create and maintain a spiritual basis for life, many people engage in slowly reading the Scriptures.
Lectio divina is the practice of setting aside some time in the day for slowly, and contemplatively reading from the Scripture. The purpose of lectio divina is to create an underlying rhythm of spirituality in your daily life. This rhythm gives you the ability to offer more of yourself and give more to your relationship with God, so you can fully embrace the fact that God continuously extends His grace to us in the form of his son, Jesus Christ.
Often, the concerns of the daily grind, our families, and relationships are intertwined with our hopes and aspirations, and all those concerns can be a vital part of our meditations. Practicing lectio divina allows you to listen to your memories using "the ear of your heart," to find God's presence intermingled with the daily events of your life. By recognizing God's presence in your life, your own personal story becomes part of salvation.
1. To practice lectio divina, first select a Scripture that you want to read. Many Christians use one of the Eucharistic liturgy readings, but others prefer to work slowly through a specific book of the Bible. It doesn't matter what text you choose, as long as you do not set a particular goal to cover a certain amount of text in a certain amount of time. The amount of scripture you cover and the time it takes to do so is in God's hands, not in yours.
2. Position yourself comfortably in a quiet room, and allow yourself to be calm and silent. Some Christians spend a few minutes focusing on their breathing, and others gently recite a prayer word or phrase that calms them. The practice of "centering prayer," or praying a silent prayer, is sometimes helpful for attaining calmness, and can serve as a good introduction to lectio divina. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the silence for a few minutes.
3. Open your Bible and read the text slowly and gently. Savor every word, continually listening for that "still, small voice" of a phrase or word that will tell you, "I am here for you today." There will not be any lightning or great epiphanies during lectio divina. Its purpose is for God to teach you how to listen for Him, to seek his guidance in silence. He will not reach out and grab you; instead, He will gently invite you slowly into His divine presence.
4. Memorize the phrase you have read, and slowly repeat them to yourself, allowing the words to interact with your mind's world of concerns, ideas, and memories. Do not try to drown out distractions or keep your mind from wandering; memories and thoughts are parts of yourself that are to be given to God right along with the rest of your being. Allow this mental pondering, inner ruminations, to welcome you into a personal dialog with God.
5. Speak to God. You can use words, images, ideas, or all three - the method is not important. Your interaction with God should be done in the same way as you would interact with anyone else who knows you, loves you, and accepts you as you are. Give to God all the things you have discovered during your prayers. Experience God's grace by using the words He has given you as a way to transform the ideas that His word have awakened in you.
6. Give God what you have discovered within your heart. Rest in God's embrace. When He welcomes you to return to your inner dialog with Him, then do so. Use words whenever they are useful, but let go of them when you no longer need them. Rejoice in knowing that God is with you, whether you are speaking or are being silent, in both spiritual activity as well as inner receptivity. You may choose to return to the printed text, either to savor the context of the words again, or to seek new words and phrases to ponder upon. Sometimes, only a single phrase or word will take up the entire amount of time you have set aside to practice lectio divina. You need not concern yourself with the "quality" of your experience with lectio divina, intending to seek a specific goal. Lectio divina's only goal is to allow you to be in the presence of God by immersing yourself in praying the Scriptures.
Lectio divina can be practiced in groups of four to eight people, with a group leader coordinating the process and facilitating sharing of experiences and thoughts. The same Scripture is read aloud three times, with a period of silence between each reading, followed by each member having the opportunity to share the experience. This form of lectio divina is becoming a common practice in Third World countries. Those who practice it regularly find it to be an excellent method of creating and maintaining trust within the group.
Lectio divina gives you the opportunity to hear or see Christ in the text of the Scriptures, ponder on the words as they touch your heart, and reflect on the purpose of letting Christ "call you forth" into doing or being the person He seeks. It is a unique and special way to let God speak to you through your own reflections on His word.