An engaged listening to a passage of scripture over multiple readings.
Scripture is living and active as the Bible reminds us in Hebrews. Lectio Divina is a practice of listening to scripture read out loud while we allow the Holy Spirit’s presence to speak to us. When we quiet ourselves and meditate on the text, we allow space to experience God and rest in his love and grace.
Lectio Divina begins by preparing ourselves to meet with God through scripture. This is not a time for a theological analysis of the text. You don’t need to find a deep meaning in the text – we’re instead inviting the Spirit to simply meet us there.
One starts by quieting themself. They pray to invite the Holy Spirit to be present and illuminate text. We then move to a portion of scripture we’ve decided on, and when ready, read through the text slowly. After the first reading, we pause for several minutes to meditate on the text that was just read. Be mindful of words or phrases that stand out to you. Hold on to those, and allow the Spirit to speak through them. We then read the scripture a second time. Notice those words or phrases that stood out the first time, and spend time talking to God about what he is revealing. We’ll then read the same passage a third time, and after this we’ll spend time in contemplation.
A Short History
Lectio Divina has roots in the 3rd century from Origen of Alexandria (scholar, ascetic, theologian). He talked about this practice as “seeking the meaning of divine words which is hidden from most people.”
This practice of meditating on scripture was passed on to other monks and transformed slightly in practice in the 12th century with Guigo II, a monk. Some version of Lectio Divina was taught to and practiced by monks for centuries. Origen’s practice was learned by Ambrose of Milan, who taught it to Saint Augustine, and from this, in the 4th century, was the beginning of regular use in monastic traditions.
Many others we know of have practiced this over the centuries: the Desert Fathers, Saint Hilary of Poitiers, it was taught by Saint John of the Cross, and even was used by Protestant John Calvin. Today it is practiced by Protestants, Reformed, Puritans, Catholics and Anglicans, as well as continued to be practiced in monastic traditions.
Guigo II (Chartreuse, FR) was the one who ‘created’ or set the 4 steps to Lectio Divina: Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate. This is still the basis of how we practice Lectio Divina today.
Guides for Lectio Divina
How to pray Lectio Divina
Learn how to pray Lectio Divina, and how to prepare your own Lectio Divina.
Teaching Guide for Lectio Divina
Resources and aides to help you guide other in discoverying and praying Lectio Divina.