In our corner of the world we are working remotely, staying home, and slowing down in hopes to slow the growth of COVID19 cases. The first week or so was new and sort of exciting but by now it’s set in that life will continue to look different in the coming months. I’m sure we all have mixed feelings about the forced slow-down. I know I do.
If you find yourself in a new rhythm of life, you may also find a little bit more room for family time, walks outside, solitude, preparing meals, or whatever else springs up when you’re at home.
As you recalibrate your routine, consider adding a new (or beloved) form a prayer, lectio divina. This form of prayer can be done individually or with a group.
“By its very nature, meditation is a discipline that enables us to slow down and respond with intentionality to the truth. We might compare this kind of reading to an extended meal that lasts through an evening, where each morsel and course is savored without hurry. We pause, consider, ruminate and take it in at a moderate pace, realizing that if we move too quickly we will miss something important.”— Gordon Smith, The Voice of Jesus
What is Lectio Divina?
I won’t overcomplicate this type of prayer by getting too detailed, so if you’d like more information I’ll include a few resources at the very bottom. Essentially, there are only 4 elements. All you need is a passage of scripture and a notebook and pen if you’d like to jot down your thoughts.
“…the lectio divina honors the historical and human character of the Bible. It is important to stress that this kind of reading of Scripture takes the nature of the Scriptures seriously…We do not honor the Scriptures when we do not honor the way in which God brought them into being. Scripture has a fundamentally human character that must be respected if we are to appreciate its divine character.”— Gordon Smith, The Voice of Jesus
Begin by reading or listening to a passage of scripture. The passage does not need to be too long; 10-15 verses will do. Many suggest reading the passage 2-3 times either silently or aloud.
What is the scripture’s literal meaning?
After reading or listening to the passage, meditate on the text for a few minutes. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination to picture yourself in the passage. Consider how the scripture is relevant in your own life. Does anything stick out?
Where do I see myself in this passage?
When you feel ready, respond with prayer. Aloud or silently, spontaneous or with a prayer book, long or short — how you respond is up to you.
How will I respond to God?
The final step is to contemplate how to practically apply what you’ve just read, meditated on, and prayed about in your day-to-day life.
Where in my life can I implement what I’ve learned?
- History of Lectio Divina
- Practicing Sustained Lectio Divina
- Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Fr. Luke Dysinger, O.S.B.
Guided Lectio Divina
If you’re like me and you like a little structure, here are some resources that might be helpful as you explore what works best for you. Most are relatively short and easy to listen to.
- Contemplative at Home
- “Guided meditative prayer sessions which help you slow down and listen for the truth that is being born out of God’s love for you today. Imaginative and contemplative prayer with gospel stories, psalms and other scripture, drawing on Ignatian Spirituality and Lectio Divina.”
- Being Podcast
- “You’re a human being, not a human doing. A podcast for taking a moment to just be.”
- Exploring Peace Meditations
- “Caring for your soul is vital to living a peace-filled and purposeful life. Join author and host, Whitney R. Simpson, for a regular dose of peace and calm for your breath, body, and spirit as you explore these practical mediations. Using yoga teachings and ancient spiritual tools such as the Prayer of Examen, Lectio Divina, and Breath Prayer, allow Whitney to companion you on your spiritual formation journey.”
- The Slow Word Movement Lectio Divina
- “Savor the scriptures with lectio divina with host and spiritual director, Summer Gross.”
- “This is a facilitated space for you to slow down and be still in the presence of God. Whether you are listening with a group, on your way to work, cleaning your house, or in a focused time of devotion, may your heart and mind be filled with peace.”
- A contemplative prayer podcast led by Pastor Faith Romasco.
If you need some music to accompany your lectio divina or other forms of prayer or scripture study, here’s a few to get you started:
If you’ve prayed in this way, I’d love to hear about it!