Lectio Divina

Methods of Prayer, Scripture

Lectio Divina is an ancient method of praying with scripture.  It consists of four movements.  I like to think of it as having begun with monastic scribes, laboring in their scriptoriums.  To begin, you need to choose a passage of scripture to pray with.  I sometimes also use Lectio Divina with poems and the writing of the mystics.

Lectio: Read the passage slowly.  Then read it again.  Listen for a word or phrase that really speaks to you.  If you were a scribe during the middle ages, you’d be copying the words out onto vellum, with no delete button!  You’d have to go slowly and concentrate on every word.

Meditatio: Pay attention to thoughts, feelings, memories, and images that arise in your mind.  This movement is a little like the wool-gathering that scribes might be doing as they worked.

Oratio: Reply to God.  This is what we usually do when we pray, and most people are used to talking to God.  Our scribe might find that she’s mumbling about her life and her family and friends as she leans over the vellum.

Contemplatio: Rest in God.  This is prayer without words, and really without thoughts.  Contemplative prayer, when time seems suspended and you’re simply aware of the room around you and the vast, moving universe enveloping you.  It’s very hard to reach this state, but always something to practice getting to.  Our scribe might let the stylus drop at this point and just rest, open-mouthed, upon her stool.

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