Christians throughout history have often interacted with scripture in a very different way through the ancient practice of ‘’Lectio Divina” or Divine Reading. Lectio Divina was established as a monastic practice by the Italian monk Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century, although the earliest known reference to divine reading comes from Origen in the 3rd century.
Lectio Divina focuses on reading the bible ‘prayerfully’ – allowing God the time and space to speak to us through it and then allowing time and space for us to respond to him and his word. Reading like this can change the focus away from reading the bible for information about God, to an encounter with God, which leads to transformation by God.
There are different ways to engage with the Bible in this way but you may find it useful to use the pneumonic ABIDE as a way of remembering the different steps – Ask, Bible, Immerse, Do, Encounter.
Abiding is a reference to Jesus’ words in John chapter 15 where he talks about how he is the vine and we are the branches, and how vital it is therefore to abide or remain in him if we are to enjoy and benefit from the spiritual life that he offers. Lectio Divina is a way to help us to do just that.
Begin by imagining God looking on you with kindness and ask Him to speak through the scriptures as you read them.
Read through the text slowly and deliberately. Make a note of any words or phrases that catch you attention.
Read through the text again. Mediate upon what God might be wanting to say to you through the words/phrases that caught your attention. It may be helpful to ask the following questions:
What does this show me about who God is?
What does this show me about who I am/who I was made to be?
What does this show me about the life God is calling me to live?
Read through the text again. Think about what action God might be inviting you toward. You may find it helps to ask, “If I took this text seriously, how would this change the way I feel, think, act?”
Or you could use the following questions:
Is there a revelation about God that can lead to praise & worship?
Is there an example to follow or a command to obey?
Is there something I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
Is there a promise to remind myself of?
Read through the text a last time and use it as the foundation for prayer – talk to God about the things you have been thinking about as if talking to friend.
End your time by focusing upon God’s love for you and by expressing your love for God.
Prayer of Benedict
Gracious and Holy Father,
give us the wisdom to discover You,
the intelligence to understand You,
the diligence to seek after You,
the patience to wait for You,
eyes to behold You,
a heart to meditate upon You,
and a life to proclaim You,
through the power of the Spirit of Jesus, our Lord.