Tag Archives: Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina – Step Four: Contemplate (Contemplatio)

The fourth and last step of the Diving Reading is to contemplate – that is, to stop and be silent while allowing everything you have read, mediated on, and prayed about take shape in your life. This is where we use our intuition in order to coalesce the previous three steps. It is meant to consummate the union of our mind and God’s truth, our heart and God’s love, our life and God’s life, our person and the person of God.

Since it is a time of silence – which is hard for most people – it is easy to skip this part, but we must NOT skip it as it is the most important part. It is during this final step that we let go of our own ideas and plans and let God’s ideas and plans wash over us. It is a time of silent prayer; of breathing in all that happened.

The spiritual discipline of “Contemplative Prayer” comes into play here:

“Contemplative prayer is silence, the ‘symbol of the world to come’ or ‘silent love.’ Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the ‘outer’ man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.” –from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

In other words, the contemplative step is a way of cementing everything together as one.

A practical tip: before you start, set a timer for five or seven minutes and then don’t look at it until it goes off. This will force you to focus on sitting there and processing the first three steps while giving you the security that you won’t drift off and miss your next appointment.  😀

Lectio Divina


Lectio Divina – Step Three: Pray (Oratio)

prayAs mentioned before, the Lectio Divina (or “Divine Reading”, to use the English translation) was developed in the 3rd century by the early church fathers as a way to pray through the Scriptures.  Split into four parts, the Divine Reading helps one to slow down and really allow the Scriptures to seep into one’s soul.

The first step is to read a short passage, savoring each word as it crosses your lips rather than trying get through large volumes of verses. Following this, one is to meditate on words of Scriptures – turning them over and over again as they seep into one’s heart. The third step of the Divine Reading, which we will be talking about today,  is prayer – or more distinctly, creating a place where you can talk to God about what was read and meditated on. The last part, which we will cover later on, is to contemplate upon all that has happened with the previous three steps.

Four steps working in unity to breath life into the Scriptures and change our souls. Powerful stuff made even more powerful by the fact that countless Jesus followers throughout centuries have walked through these four steps… wow, talk about finding the “ancient paths” of the faith (Jeremiah 6:16). 

Enough of the review, let us turn to the third step of the Lectio Divina, praying.

Step Three: Pray (Oratio)

The third step is where we dialogue with God about what He told us. It is where we move from thinking about – meditating about – and start responding to the message of the Scriptures. It is the place where we allow our feelings to come out and we get to share our joy, love, sorrow, repentance and desires with God.

Saint Ambrose in the 4th Century said of this step:

“Let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying.”

In praying, we should remember that it is a two-way conversation. We need to – no, we MUST – allow times of silence so that God can respond! All too often we use this time to talk, talk, talk, talk without letting God say anything – and then we get upset at Him for not talking to us!!

God voice could be a silent word in your spirit, something that normally would not be there. Or it could strong impression, reference to a Bible verse, a vision or dream…. perhaps He will bring to your mind something that you have heard or read before or speak to you with an audible voice.

The Bible tells us that God speaks to His people in different ways. Some people get scared about hearing from God because they are afraid they will get deceived. Jesus answered this concern in Luke 11 right after the 12 disciples asked Him how to pray and He gives them the Lord’s prayer. This is what Jesus says (Luke 11:9-13):

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

If you are talking to God, he will guide you and give you good gifts! You don’t have to be afraid being deceived or led a stray. You are just allowing your Father to talk to you about the Love Letter He gave you to read. Having a dialogue with the King is a wonderful thing – for without it, we are just people reading a book and trying to figure things out on our own. We NEED the Holy Spirit and input from the Father on how to walk out the Scriptures in our modern world.

So let us create a place for God to talk to us.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina – Step Two: Meditate (Meditatio)

garden pathThe next step in the Divine Reading (Lectio Divina) after savoring the Scriptures is to meditate on the words which you just read. It is about stopping and really thinking about them rather than checking an item off your to-do list and moving on to the next thing.

In mediating about the words of the Scriptures is to allows the words to seep through you. You are not trying to assign meaning to the words – you are letting the words work through you. To mediate is to hold the Scriptures gentle, turning them around and around so you can see them through different angles and view points.

It is about allowing the Holy Spirit to breath life into the words – turning them simple letters on a page to life giving manna from heaven. For without the Holy Spirit, reading the Bible is like than reading the label on a can of soup without actually opening and eating the soup. We HAVE to have the Holy Spirit, and we HAVE to ALLOW the Spirit to move in our lives!

This is also the time in which we can use our imagination to enter into the Scriptures like we mentioned before. Here shortly I will talking more about this step as I have some suggestions based upon the four basic personality temperaments…but for now, know that this step is where you allow the word that you have just read to permeate our lives.

Here’s an example, a few weeks ago I went into a conference room at work to pray. Opening the Bible my fingers led me to Romans 8:15:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.

I have read that verse many times – shoot, I even preached on it a few years ago!  Yet that day, my heart stopped on the last half of the verse: God adopted me;  He choose me

My eyes started tearing up… My soul couldn’t believe it…No fear again…I was adopted…For the next few days that’s all I could think about…I’m still thinking about..

This is mediating. It is slowing down and letting the words become alive – letting the Holy Spirit speak to us rather than just closing our Bibles and walking off.

Wow… powerful, yet simple stuff… =)

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina – Step One: Read (Lectio)

bible 2The first step in the Divine Reading (Lectio Divina) is to read the Scriptures. While this seems self evident, it really isn’t as we all have different ways of reading. For example, there are some folks whose goal in devotional reading is to make it through large chucks of Scriptures. And while there is a time and place for reading large amounts of Scriptures (after all we NEED to get the overall story line of a particular letter as well as the Bible as a whole), reading with the Divine Reading is not that place.

The reading of the Lectio Divina is a prayerful reading. It is using our senses to perceive the works of the Lord – to slowly savor each word. It is a gradual reading of a verse or a few verses, pausing after each word and recognizing how carefully the Spirit chose each word to be recorded. It is reading like you would fondle over a new toy or tool – looking at over and over, turning it over and over, seeing the beauty and life behind the printed text.

In fact, I would recommend reading the verse(s) out loud as there is something powerful about physically voicing the Scriptures. In speaking the words out loud, it is almost as if the verses become real and moves from your mind into your heart. It is not a magical formula or a way of manipulating God – it is a way of using all of our senses to experience the words of God given to us.

It is about seeing the words on the page – hearing the words read out loud – about touching the pages of the Bible (or one’s cell phone, tablet…) – smelling the paper and perhaps a candle or two.

It is about slowing down and relaxing… opening yourself up to read a letter from your Lover and King….

Read the passage…re-read it…re-read it yet again… savor each word… that is the first step of praying through the Lectio Divina.

After all, the Scriptures are, in the words of King David:

They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
(Psalms 19:10)

Lectio Divina

Introducing The Lectio Divina

•    Let’s open our Bible’s to 1 Peter 2:1-3

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

•    We have tasked that the Lord is good

o    Each of us have bowed our knees to the King of Kings

•    Now that we have done so, we are to seek to grow in Him

o    To “train yourself to be godly as St. Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:7

•    We are to “CRAVE pure spiritual milk”

o    It is a strong desire to learn and grow
o    It is following in the steps of The Rabbi
o    Getting to know Him

•    Which is the whole purpose of prayer

o    To align our lives – our souls, spirits, minds, emotions with Jesus

•    We pray not to get answers

o    We pray because we want to know Jesus
o    We want to be WITH Jesus

The Ancient Paths

•    During the siege of Jerusalem the prophet Jeremiah warned the people against disobeying God
•    In Jeremiah 6:16 he is recorded as saying

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.
    But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

•    Ask for the ancient paths

o    Ask for the tried and true paths

Lectio DivinaLectio Divina (The Divine Reading)

•    Starting in the 3rd Century (200 AD), the church adopted a form of reading – of breathing the Scriptures
•    The Divine Reading has four steps

o    Read (Lectio)
o    Meditate (Meditatio)
o    Pray (Oratio)
o    Contemplate (Contemplatio)

•    These are simple steps

o    Some of us probably already do them without knowing

•    However I would say that most of us have never really thought about how we read the Scriptures

o    I know I didn’t!!

•    We may read them like we do a novel, or a school book…
•    The Scriptures are an interesting book

lectia-divinao    They are different than anything else out there
o    They are love letters to us
o    They are the story of God working in and through history

•    The four steps of the Divine Reading uses all four of our psychological function

o    Sensing (heart, reading)
o    Thinking (mind; meditating)
o    Feeling (spirit; praying)
o    Intuition (body; contemplate)

•    As such, it is a tool that can be used by anyone of any temperament
•    Carthusian Prior Guigo II in the 12th century said of the Divine Reading

“Reading, you should seek; meditating, you will find, praying, you shall call; and contemplating, the door will be open to you.”

•    A Southern rural minister, it is said, once replied to the question as to how he prays:

“I read myself full; I think myself clear; I prays myself hot; I lets myself cool.”

•    Four pieces operating in unity…

o    Four pieces breathing life into our souls

•    It is a progress from “hearing the Word of God to studying it, reflecting upon it, praying upon it, and adapting it to our situation”

o    It is a progress that will lead us deeper and deeper into the union with God
o    Like steps on a ladder
o    Each piece builds upon the other

•    Tomorrow we will look at the first step of the ladder, “Reading” or “Lectio”

Blessings till tomorrow. 🙂