What is Lectio Divina?
You are invited to join me in praying with one of the weekly lectionary texts on my Lectio Divina Podcast page (lectiodivinatodd.com). I have produced this podcast weekly since February of 2009. Since moving to WordPress in May 2012, my listeners have come from over 120 different countries from across the globe. So, when you are listening, you are participating in a truly international contemplative community. This brings me a lot of joy!
If you are interested in learning a bit more about the practice of Lectio Divina and getting some suggestions, the following may be helpful.
“Lectio Divina” is Latin for “holy reading” or “divine reading.” It is an ancient Christian spiritual practice that allows a person to meditate and pray with a brief scripture text. There are many ways to practice Lectio Divina, but all of them include some combination of: opening oneself to God’s spirit in moments of silence and stillness, slowly reading or hearing a passage at least 2-3 times through, listening for a word or phrase, or image or feeling that God is wanting to give you from the text, inwardly savoring or sitting with what is given, allowing a prayer to arise out of the pondering and then returning to God’s presence in wordless rest. As Thomas Keating says, one can approach these elements as consecutive steps, which was the way many folks during the latter Middle Ages approached Lectio, and the way I most often lead it here on the podcast. But, the earliest form of practicing Lectio Divina in the Christian tradition comes from the monastic Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity, in which one allows all of the elements to arise in no particular order, as if they are upon a vast circle which one slowly experiences over and over as one reads the text numerous times. For a more complete description of the distinctions between the two forms of practicing Lectio, see Keating’s article here: The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina by Thomas Keating
Some suggestions: Use a journal. Write your word or phrase, image or feeling. Write the prayer you most need to pray. Listen to the podcast with a friend, your family or a small group and then quietly, without intellectualizing or trying to “fix” one another, share with each other what you discovered. Remember that this is a time for listening for our loving God, not a time for squeezing ideas out of scripture or “nailing it down” into one “right” interpretation. God is so economical, that thousands of gifts can come from one small text, and each gift can be exactly unique for each person. You are encouraged also, to share some of your experience by posting comments on the podcast webpage.
Oh, and don’t get too upset when you experience frustration or inner distractions during the quiet. Those are just part of the experience. Simply return back to the text or the word or gift God seems to be giving you, repeating or savoring it and allowing it to sink deeper into your heart. And if a word or gift doesn’t come, simply use this quiet time to rest with God and allow your breathing and just being open to God to be your prayer.
I pray that you find the Lectio Divina podcast helpful for your continued growth in love of God! Let me know how God is reaching you through this activity sometime. Check back to the Podcast page regularly. Again, it is most often updated weekly. Listen and be known by God.
God’s Light and Love,
Rev. Todd A. Spencer