Spiritual transformation happens when we place ourselves in God’s presence and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out. Lectio Divina is an approach to reading the Bible that opens us up to hear God speak to us in the present moment. Central to the practice of Lectio Divina is the belief that the Holy Spirit actively uses the Scriptures to lead us and transform us.
Studying Scripture is important. As we learn more about the context in which the books of the Bible were written and how they should be translated and understood, we develop greater insight into who God is and how he is calling us to live.
Lectio Divina, however, is a very different approach to reading the Bible. It is slower and more reflective. Lectio Divina is meant to complement our study of Scripture rather than to replace it. Lectio Divina places us in a position to be transformed by the Scriptures as we immerse ourselves in them and surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
How to Practice Lectio Divina
To prepare for Lectio Divina, first select a passage of Scripture to focus on. The gospels are a great place to start. Focus on 6-8 verses. Remember, the goal in your reading is depth rather then breadth. Along with your Bible, it may be helpful to have a pen and a journal with you.
Start by taking a few minutes to breathe and quiet yourself in God’s loving presence. Express your willingness to hear from God and your desire to be led by the Spirit.
Read: Listen for the word or phrase that God lifts to your attention
Read the passage all the way through slowly. Savour the words and let them sink into your heart. As you read, listen for a word or phrase that is drawn to your attention or that seems to resonate with your heart. Don’t let yourself feel pressured or worried about whether or not God will speak to you. Lean into the Holy Spirit and rest in the knowledge that God is already with you. Take a moment to sit with the words that have been drawn to your attention.
Reflect: How does this word connect with my life?
Read the passage through a second time. As you do, reflect on how this word relates to what is going on in your life at the present moment. How is God revealing himself to you through these words? It may be helpful to picture yourself in the story. Who in the story do you relate the most with? Where are you in the scene? How do the dynamics of what is happening in this passage relate to your own life?
Respond: What is my response to God?
Read the passage through a third time. Following this reading, take a few moments to pray to God in response to this encounter. Express your feelings about what you have read – whether it be joy, sorrow, anger, conviction, repentance, or any other response. Pay attention for any sense that God is calling you to step out in obedience in some way based on what you have heard. This may be a good time to journal your prayers.
Resolve: Live it out!
As you continue on with the rest of your activities for the day, carry this word with you. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring it to your attention throughout the day. Live it out and let the Holy Spirit lead you into a deeper understanding of its meaning as it relates to your everyday life.
This structure follows the approach to Lectio Divina laid out in an article called "Lectio Divina: Engaging the Scriptures for Spiritual Transformation" by Ruth Haley Barton. Read the full article here