In our series on finding ways to connect with God, Amy Boucher Pye shares how she came to value the ancient practice of lectio divina, praying through the Bible.
Often I do things fast – reading, eating, cleaning. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes not. In terms of engaging with the Bible, I’ve had to learn how to slow myself down so that I can enjoy the honey of God’s word dripping delightfully into my mouth. How have I gone about this? One way is through the ancient practice of lectio divina, which is simply Latin for ‘prayerful reading’.
Reading a passage from scripture four times, each with a different emphasis, allows me to slow down enough to sense the still, small voice of God. When I’m thundering ahead at a hundred miles an hour, I miss that. This practice allows me to engage with God through his word in the Bible – and through his living Word, Jesus. Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I find that praying through the Bible becomes a rich, intimate experience. Why don’t you give it a try?
Praying with Lectio Divina
This way of praying is a cord of four strands: reading, reflecting, responding and resting. You can pray these steps linearly or mix them up. Embrace a sense of freedom while praying this way – go with the Spirit.
- Read. The first step is simply reading the text that you’ve selected (a line or a paragraph – it’s up to you). Read with silence and awe, with reverence for God who is the author of this living, breathing word. Read for comprehension and to let the words sink into you.
- Reflect. The second time you read through the text you’ve selected, pause to ruminate. Turn over the ideas and images in your mind, pondering as Mary did when she treasured the promises of God in her heart (Luke 2:19). Here scripture will interact with your thoughts, memories, hopes, dreams and desires.
- Respond. Read through the passage a third time and respond to God – you may be moving into this step naturally as you’ve been chewing it over in the previous step. We cry out to God through thanksgiving, praise, petition, intercession, adoration, repentance. As we engage with the passage, we share with God what we’re sensing and feeling and we enjoy a loving conversation with him.
- Rest. Read through the passage a final time and do what might not come naturally – rest. This can be the hardest step, as we’re tempted to turn to the next thing in our day. But resist the impulse and simply take some time with God and enjoy being in his presence. You don’t need to do anything. Just be and receive; enjoy being with him.
I hope that as you pray through the Bible you’ll revel in the ways God speaks to you. He’ll bring the words alive, often dropping them straight into your heart. Know that he loves to communicate with us, his beloved – if we’ll take the time to slow down enough to hear his loving whispers.