What is ‘Lectio Divina’?

Lectio Divina is a way of reading scripture. The Christian community from the beginning used this simple method of reading and praying with the sacred text. It assumes that God speaks to us in the Scriptures as well as in the events of our lives.  What we do when we pray through Lectio Divina, is to bring together into dialogue the experience of our lives and the written Word of God. In this encounter the Word of God becomes alive today and in turn our experience as persons, as Church and as human beings is understood, interpreted and enriched by the Word of God.

Personal experience becomes the focus. Today we are living in a culture were people value a lot personal experience, in fact knowledge and insight gained has to be grounded in personal experience. Lectio Divina has at its basis the belief that God is alive and active in the life of each one of us, and that God speaks in our stories as much as God speak to us in the Scripture stories. While doing Lectio Divina we can experience that the Word of God is being written again in one’s life. While meditating and praying with scripture we can identify parts of our story in the Scripture stories, and we can become aware of how God has been working in our life or what is God inviting us to be. Then after reflecting and meditating we can also thank God for his continuous presence in our life. We can ask God forgiveness for inability to trust in him or ask him to help us in our present situations.  Someone said that there are texts that we like and they tell us where we are. There are also texts that we do not like and they tell us where we should be. There are texts that do not make any sense and those are for tomorrow.

Lectio Divina in fact offers a simple and a scriptural method. Its simplicity makes it available to all kinds of people.  The only required educational background is the ability to read, and when reading is not possible an ability to listen.  Having scriptural knowledge enriches the method but this is by no means required.  Furthermore, the fact that Lectio Divina is scripturally based roots prayer in the Christian tradition and so links the person with the whole Christian community.

The method of Lectio Divina consists of four stages, which all are linked together in a unified whole. First there is the reading of the Word of God.  In many communities they reflect upon the gospel, which is read during the Sunday liturgy, in this way the small group unites itself with the whole Church. The text can be read several times. It is important not to read the text in an intellectual way but more as a story. We do not look at it for information but we read it as a narrative.   So the questions we ask would be; who are the characters in this story? What are they saying? What is happening in the story? What are the underlying feelings? What is the movement in the story?

When we have become familiar with the text, we can then move on to meditate on it. The step of meditating involves bringing together the text and our own experience. The question we ask is where is this text happening in my life, in the Church or in the world? We can choose those words which struck us and ask ourselves what does this remind me of? In meditating the Scriptures the memory is very important. When we remember we realize that what happened in the gospel or in that text happened also in our lives. We can also widen our reflection to include the community, the Church and the world since God is at work in the human family.

Having meditated on the Word and having seen how the Lord has been working in our lives we now might want to present to him our prayers. This moment of prayer can come naturally as an outcome of our meditation. We feel the need to thank God or to ask forgiveness or to ask for God’s assistance and help. The moments of prayer reaches its climax when we are moved to pray in the words of the Scriptures itself.   There are also moments when silence becomes our prayer. It is a moment when we take a contemplative stance and let our selves both as individuals and as community experience being held by God.