Lectio Divina Prayer method

Maria Smith's picture

Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or "holy reading," and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to engender communion with the Triune God and to increase in the knowledge of God's Word. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray from God's Word.

Method:

Lectio is typically practiced daily for one continuous hour. A selection from the Holy Scriptures is chosen ahead of time, often as a daily progression through a particular book of the Bible.

Time:

Selecting a time for lectio divina is important. Typical methods are to pray for one hour in the morning, or to divide it into two half-hour periods, one in the morning and one in the evening. The key is to pre-select the time that will be devoted to the prayer and to keep it. Using the same time every day leads to a daily habit of prayer that becomes highly effective.

Place:

The place for prayer is to be free from distractions. This means it should be isolated from other people, telephones, visual distractions, etc. Some find a religious icon to be helpful. The same place should be used for lectio if possible, especially as one first begins to practice it. Having a location reduces the possibility of distraction away from the prayer. Some practitioners conduct other devotions, such as praying before the Catholic Eucharist, as a preparation for Lectio Divina.

Preparation:

Prior to reading, it is important to engage in a transitional activity that takes one from the normal state of mind to a more contemplative and prayerful state. A few moments of deep, regular breathing and a short prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to guide the prayer time helps to set the tone and improve the effectiveness of the lectio.
Once the stage is set it is time to begin the prayer. There are four phases of the prayer, which do not necessarily progress in an ordered fashion. One may move between different phases of the prayer very freely as the Spirit guides.

Lectio Divina has been likened to "Feasting on the Word." The four parts are first taking a bite (Lectio), then chewing on it (Meditatio). Next is the opportunity to savour the essense of it (Oratio). Finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (Contemplatio).

Lectio:
This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively for several times.

Meditatio:
The Christian, gravitating around the passage or one of its words, takes it and ruminates on it, thinking in God’s presence about the text. He or she benefits from the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination, i.e. the work of the Spirit that imparts spiritual understanding of the sacred text. It is not a special revelation from God, but the inward working of the Holy Spirit, which enables the Christian to grasp the revelation contained in the Scripture.

Oratio:

This is a response to the passage by opening the heart to God. It is not an intellectual exercise, but an intuitive conversation or dialogue with God.

Contemplatio:

This moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God. In other words, it is a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in his presence.

Yours in Christ,
Maria
CCEL Hostess




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