Monday, January 08, 2007

Lectio Divina (Spiritual Reading)

Lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-oh di-vee-nuh) has been used for over 1,500 years. Literally, it means “divine reading’, ‘spiritual reading’ or ‘sacred reading’. The primary source of what is read in lectio is the Bible. It is gaining popularity as more and more people are finding it a powerful way to nurture their spiritual lives.

As evangelicals, we have concentrated on the study of the Bible. We have come to know a lot about the Bible. But we have not been very good at applying the Bible, much less hearing God through the Bible. Lectio divina is an approach that builds on serious Bible study but moves to new depths as we open ourselves to God through the Bible.

The early monks and nuns approached the Bible by means of lectio divina. In the daily routine of the monasteries and convent, there is specific time set aside for study, prayer and work.
One of the leaders to commend lectio divina as a spiritual exercise was Benedict, an Italian monk who lived in the fifth and sixth centuries (about 480-550).
During the time set aside for study, a monk (or a nun) would go to a quiet place and begin to repeat aloud a passage from the Bible. Often this is taken from the Psalms or Gospels. The monk would speak the passage out loud until a particular word or phrase strikes him. Then he would stop and ponder this word or phrase, understanding it to be a word from God for him.

In lectio divina, the practitioner looks for direct message from God. This meditation (which is what he is doing) will lead naturally into prayer as the monk seeks to communicate with the Lord. As he moved further and further into prayer, he will come to a place where he rested in the presence of the Lord. This is the state of contemplation.

The process of Lectio Divina
In the twelfth century, Guigo II, a French Carthusian monk developed lectio into a four step exercise:

Reading/Listening (lectio)
Read out a short passage of Scripture. When we read aloud, we become both proclaimer and hearer of the Word of God. As you read, listen for the word or phrase that speaks to you. What is the Spirit drawing your attention to?

Meditating (meditatio)
Repeat aloud the word or phrase that attracts you. Make connections between it and your life. What is God saying to you by means of this word or phrase?

Praying (oratio)
Now, take these thoughts and offer them back to God in prayer, giving thanks, asking for guidance, asking for forgiveness, and resting in God’s love. What is God leading you to pray?

Contemplating (contemplatio)
Move from the activity of prayer to the stillness of contemplation. Simply rest in God’s presence. Stay open to God. Listen to God. Remain in peace and silence before God. How is God revealing Himself to you?

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Blogger Sivin Kit said...

Luther had an interesting way to "reworking" the lectio divina in a way I can relate to. The first time I saw this was during the final year of STM and when I was looking for a quote to capture what I was feeling as far as Christian life and ministry contains.

Check this out

Here's a cool link

6:51 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Yes, there are many ways to approach lectio divina. Luther's approach is interesting as he ends with tentatio instead of contemplatio.

I believe our main emphasis is to let the Holy Spirit speaks to us and be receptive in our listening to His voice.

Other than the Bible, others have used spiritual books in lectio divina. These can be useful too.

12:14 AM  

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