Divina is a way of studying and
praying the Scriptures so that the Word of God may penetrate the heart and lead to acquiring God’s perspective
and love for the world. Through Lectio
Divina, a person gradually lets go of their own agenda and becomes open to what God is communicating
to them. Developed in the 12th century by Guigo, a Carthusian monk, Lectio Divina, a Latin term meaning
“divine reading”, consists of four steps.
The first stage is
lectio (reading). One reads a passage in the Word of God in an
unhurried manner several times to become familiar with it. Any text of Scripture may be used, but it should not
be too long. (Bible reading plans with a daily set of passages for a year, while worthwhile in themselves, work
against this approach.)
In the second stage,
meditatio (reflection), one ponders the text and thinks about how to
apply it to one’s life.
The third stage,
oratio (response), involves responding to the Holy Spirit, inspired
by one’s reflection on God’s Word. Here one speaks to God from the heart – acknowledging woundedness, asking for
forgiveness, giving thanks, praising God, rejoicing, and so on.
During the final stage,
contemplatio (rest), one rests in silence and solitude. It means
listening to God by opening one’s heart and soul, and letting go of one’s own ideas, plans, and
On a CD entitled The Word
of All Life (2003), Margaret Rizza gives a brief and simplified overview of this beautiful way of
praying over Scripture. Here
is her brief summary of Lectio
§ Select a short passage from Scripture. Read the passage slowly several times, allowing the words
to flow from head to heart. [lectio – reading]
§ As you begin to be familiar with the passage, notice which words, phrases, ideas strike you –
that you have been drawn to. As the passage is reduced to just a few words or phrases, repeat them, letting
them flood your whole being – chew on them as a cow chews its cud. [meditatio
§ Pray with the words, phrases which have been given to you and, as you go about your daily work,
let them mingle with life’s experiences. [oratio
response; contemplatio –rest]
The practice of Lectio
Divina has changed my own life. The Word has become more alive and active – and I am better able
to relate it to my everyday life. For most of my life’s journey, I had been drawn mainly to the intellectual
side of the Christian life – now by being aware of the contemplative side, I am receiving the Word more
by the ear of the heart.
Nevertheless, there is also a place for correct exegesis – in other words, understanding such elements as the (1) original
wording, (2) historical setting, (3) language of the text, (4) composition and style, (5) genre and life
setting, and the (6) theology. In reality, both are needed – the head and the heart.
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the
truth will set you free (John 8:31-32, NIV).
credit: Intellimon Ltd.