Friday, April 11, 2014

The Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina

“Christ stands in the midst of those who seek him.”
— John 1:26 (paraphrased)
LECTIO DIVINA means “sacred reading,” and it can be done as a means of spiritual contemplation toward practicing the Presence of God. For Example, when Jesus says, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27), we can either focus on what that means theologically or we can meditate on it to deduce what Jesus is actually saying to us, in our space and time, right now. We are practicing being Present with the Messiah.
Lectio Divina is done by simply praying the Word aloud, repeatedly, for example, John 14:27... “peace, I leave you... peace... peace, I leave you... I give you peace... I give to you... peace...” we imagine Jesus saying to us as we pray the words aloud, slowly, experimenting in different tones and pace.
What follows is an acrostic that describes some of the features of Lectio Divina:
Linger – as we linger over the Word of God – one verse, line, or word – we draw deeply into the Lord and God becomes real in that moment.
Examine – of a sense we are examining the text before us. God is doing things in our minds as we open ourselves up via our intentional focus.
Concentrate – there are times when our thoughts waver into distraction; but this is about stilling the mind, heart and soul as much as possible. Whenever we find ourselves distracted we re-connect and concentrate, not so much mentally, but on our spiritual resources of being one with God.
Transform – through such a submission of ourselves into contemplative practice we are open to God transforming us by the revelation of his Word back to us through the biblical text. The text literally comes alive; it makes us change.
Internalize – the introvert will love lectio divina, but any busy or weary person will; that’s because there is the intentional internalization. We have given ourselves permission to escape, for a brief time, from the burdens of this world.
Obedience – to practice being Present with God is possibly the greatest sign of the humble submission of ourselves.
Discipleship – lectio divina is an investment, at its core, in the process of discipleship. In allowing God to speak to us through his Word, we are able to listen, to hear (and therefore understand), and to contemplate the action to take.
Illumined – there are myriads of false enlightenments in this world. To be truly enlightened is to see as God sees. To be illumined is to be judged; to know the truth – the good, the bad, and the ugly – as we are personally concerned.
Vulnerable – to be vulnerable to God’s grace and revelation is to be opened up like a tin can, knowing all along that as God pervades us we are safe. To be vulnerable as we pray through the Word is to give God license to change us.
Integrity – this is what we want to harness; to be integral as we pray; to be a unit within ourselves with God.
New – as we plunge prayerfully into the biblical text, we come through fresh exploration into to new understandings.
Acuity – lectio divina blesses us with a sharper, keener sense for ourselves, God, and our relationship with God.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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