Lectio Divina - What is it?
Lectio Divina is a monastic practice used for Scripture reading and prayer that is gaining popularity among many Christians today. The term roughly translates to "divine reading." Lectio Divina is not meant as an intellectual study of the Bible, but as a means of communion with God. The practice consists of four parts:
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Lectio: First, a person reads a passage of Scripture. This reading is meant to be intentional and slow. Most people will read the focus passage several times through.
Meditatio: Next, the person doing Lectio Divina meditates on the Scripture. This means he or she ponders over the passage, seeking to hear from the Holy Spirit. He or she does not analyze the passage, but does attempt to view it from various perspectives.
Oratio: This step consists of prayer. After having read and meditated on the passage, the practitioner of Lectio Divina brings it to God in prayer.
Contemplatio: The Lectio Divina process concludes with contemplation. This is a type of listening or restful prayer. The practitioner seeks to simply sit in God's presence with His Word still fresh on the mind.
Some Christians have warned against Lectio Divina, while others have found it to be spiritually beneficial and a means by which they have drawn closer to God. The potential dangers of Lectio Divina are obvious. If our hearts are not set on God, it is easy to "hear" the Holy Spirit tell us what we want to hear. There is danger in making the practice of Lectio Divina more about an experience than about true relationship with God. If we engage in Lectio Divina for a spiritual high or to gain some sort of special truth, then our hearts are in the wrong place. It becomes an idol rather than a helpful spiritual discipline. However, there is something to be said for intentionally slowing down to spend time with God. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Lectio Divina can be a great tool to help us be still. When we truly contemplate God's word and seek to be in His presence, He speaks to us. It is only through God's Word and the Holy Spirit that we know the truth and are therefore set free (John 8:32).
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