In this session we look at the concept and process of lectio divina. Amy Boucher Pye interviews author of the Sensible Shoes series, Sharon Garlough Brown, about her experiences of praying through the Bible with this well-loved practice.
Sharon Garlough Brown is a spiritual director, speaker and cofounder of Abiding Way Ministries. She’s passionate about inviting others to know the height, length, depth, and breadth of the love of God. Through her retreats and best-selling spiritual-formation novels, Sharon seeks to offer opportunities to encounter Jesus in life-giving ways and to experience healing and transformation, both individually and in community.
The process of lectio divina (which is Latin for ‘sacred reading’) invites us to slow down and savour the word of God. It allows us space and time to respond in a different way to the Bible. Rather than coming from a posture of being over the word and expecting it to take us in a certain direction, lectio encourages us to take a submissive posture, under the word. Through this practice we seek a moment of encounter rather than a moment of direction.
Lectio is a four-step process of reading a passage of Scripture out loud to allow our ears to hear the word. We listen for a phrase or word that glimmers or jumps out to us in our spirit. We then chew on the word, mull it over and over and ask God to speak to us about it. We bring it into conversation with God, giving him our praises and petitions. Finally, we rest in the presence of God and sit with the word as we pray.
God loves, cares, and knows us as individuals; he uses the Holy Spirit to communicate with us each individually. The use of lectio allows these conversations to happen in a way that speaks to us personally.
As we read in chapter two of 7 Ways to Pray:
So what is lectio divina, and how do we participate in reading for transformation and encounter with God? This way of heartfelt listening to God is traditionally a circular four-step practice that we undertake with expectancy and awe. In this chapter, we’ll explore the steps one by one. But briefly, they are (1) lectio, or reading, when we read through the passage with reverence; (2) meditatio, reflecting or meditating, when we ruminate over the text as an animal chews its cud; (3) oratio, responding or praying, when we voice to God our thanksgiving, praise, petition, repentance, and adoration; and (4) contemplatio, resting or contemplating, when we rest in the presence of God. Some people also include a step for pausing at the start, calming ourselves in God’s presence, and a step at the end to go forth in action, loving God and his world.
In this video, Sharon takes us through a practical exercise of how we can use lectio.
One option is to play the video with Sharon leading you through the practice of lectio, spending some time individually to work through it, and then reconvene as a group. Or engage with the group prayer practice starting on page 38.
Either way, at the end of the practice, share how the experience was for you – how did God meet you? How did you respond? What surprised you? Receive the offerings in an attitude of welcome.
This week, choose a favourite passage of Scripture and use lectio to help you chew over the word.