This ancient practice dates back to the 12th century and was first introduced by monks. Today this practice can help break out of the usual way of reading scripture and allows for reading just a few verses at a time again and again instead of reading a bunch of verses all at once. It is a way to “marinate” in the Bible.
There are many ways to practice Lectio Divina and depending on who you read or study, they will tell you different things. This is one that I use with my groups and it works very well. It can be done in a group or by yourself.
The best explanation is that this practice is like reading a love letter. It was taught to me this way by a spiritual director in my life and this analogy works best.
When you read a love letter the first time you are so excited and just want to know what it says. It is a chance to check in and see what this message has to say about the writer, about what they are saying to you, etc.
Then you read through again and this time you listen for words or sentences to stand out to you. Almost like you were to go back over the letter with a highlighter… “love” “patience” “daughter” “you are healed” “go now and be at peace” these are all examples of words or sentences that can jump out at a person – depending on the passage you choose of course.
You can do this by yourself by sitting comfortably and reading a small passage a couple of times and then journaling about the part that stood out to you or have a group leader read the passage twice after asking the group to close their eyes and relax. I prefer when 1 or 2 people are reading it aloud in a group as it allows for you to relax into the verses and have it wash over you with audible words.
After it is read a few times with at least a minute of silence inbetween readings have the group respond with their “highlighted’ part while keeping their eyes closed. Nothing else is said, just their word or sentence. Making sure people write down their word is important as well. It will serve as a reminder of God showing up in that passage.
Passages to try – Psalm 23, 63, stories of the adultrous woman and Jesus, and the bleeding woman and Jesus.
Try it out and let me know how it goes!