What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina means sacred reading, and it’s a powerful way to pray with the Bible. Instead of just Scripture, Lectio Divina helps you really dive into the story and understand God’s message for your life.
The Historic Origins of Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina originated in the third century and was a special favorite in Catholic monasteries–but it isn’t just for priests, monks, and nuns! After being popularized in the very early church, it remained popular for hundreds of years. During the Second Vatican Council in 1965 and later in 2005, the Church mentioned Lectio Divina as an especially powerful way of praying with the Bible.
How to Pray with Lectio Divina
It’s important to remember that Lectio Divina is not a Bible Study, where you research and interpret the Bible from a theological or historical perspective. Rather, Lectio Divina is a personal conversation with God through scripture.
Before you begin, select a passage from the Bible. If you’re not sure where to start, try using the Gospel passage for the upcoming Sunday.
Find a quiet space–whether that’s inside of a church, outside in nature, or in your room. Ask the Holy Spirit to help guide you through this experience!
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The Four Steps of Lectio Divina
- Lectio (Read) —Read the passage slowly. Put yourself in the story or scene instead of focusing on a message for yourself. Visualize as concretely as possible the time, the place, and the people involved in the biblical story. Slow down. Savor the images. Pay attention whenever anything you read sparks a reaction from you. Read it several times!
- Meditatio (Meditate) —Try focusing on a word or phrase from the passage. One way to do this is by repeating the word or phrase out loud or in your head a few times.
- Oratio (Pray)—Allow the meditation to lead you to a conversation with God. Why did that word or phrase resonate with you? What is God calling you to think about? Don’t overthink it - remember that prayer is simply conversation with God about the matters on your heart!
- Contemplatio (Contemplate) —Spend a few moments resting in the presence of God!
Sample Passages to Use for Lectio Divina:
You can choose any Bible passage to use Lectio Divina, but here are a few ideas to get your started: The Book of Psalms, especially Psalm 139 or Psalm 23 are very popular. During Lent, you could try using scenes from Jesus’ Passion. During Advent, check out the first few chapters from the Gospels of Matthew or Luke to help you reflect on the Christmas story.
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