Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Value of Lectio Divina

I first ran across the term Lectio Divina about eight years ago, and I really dove headfirst into the idea as I was preparing for Lake Murray Community Church's women's retreat which I had been asked to facilitate. Lectio Divina is Latin for "divine reading" and simply refers to a meditative reading of and praying of the Holy Scriptures. It's been a while since I've written about Lectio, and it came to me today once again how very integral Lectio is to my relationship with Christ.

I think that I first ran across the term in Kathleen Norris' incredible book, Cloister Walk which describes becoming an oblate in a Benedictine monastery while retaining her place in her hometown Presbyterian Church. Norris described her foundation in Lectio Divina in such poetic terms -- the great draw for me in Norris' writing is her grounding as a poet as well as her experiences in Catholic and Protestant worship. As I read Norris' description of Lectio, I immediately recognized the method as very similar to the one I had been taught years ago at Lake Murray by Edie Riffe, our women's ministry leader at the time. Edie taught us to read through Scripture slowly and prayerfully until we "heard" the Spirit "speaking" to us, and then write down or pray over that issue. But the goal of Edie's teaching and Lectio Divina is really the same: praying God's Word and listening to Him speaking to us.

So the practice of Lectio Divina came quite easily to me after Edie's teaching. Once I discovered Lectio, I found I could really NOT handle the Bible in any other way: I could not read or study the Holy Scriptures merely inductively; I need to pray the Scriptures -- or at least read the Scriptures prayerfully. I find that Lectio works best with the Psalms, especially as I read them according to the 1928 Book Of Common Prayer Psalter which lays out all 150 Psalms to be read, morning and evening, each month.

So, if you are intrigued by the idea of Lectio Divina, allow me to refer you to some great online resources that will get you started and keep you going in praying God's Word:

The Lectio Divina page at Rev. Bosco Peter's Liturgy New Zealand website is truly remarkable. He gives great directions for making Lectio an integral part of our worship.

The Navigators, an evangelical parachurch organization focusing on evangelism and growing in Christ, has a rich history in the practice of Lectio. I used many of their resources when writing up my retreat talk, and we also had a wonderful speaker from the Navigators at our retreat last month, Debbie Yorgey with whom I discussed Lectio. You can read more about Lectio from their point of view right here: Navigators: Lectio Divina. You can find additional articles on Lectio by plugging the term into their site's search feature.

Also in my sidebar under "Websites of Interest" is a link to the page I've used greatly in my own practice of Lectio Divina. It's a simple, single-page explanation of how to practice this ancient mode of worship, written by a Catholic priest: Lectio Divina

Obviously, you may plug Lectio Divina into any search engine and come up with bazillions of pages.

A method used by both Catholics and evangelical Protestants, the ancient practice of Lectio Divina has revolutionized the way I read and pray the Scriptures. I find myself delving more and more deeply into God's Word and into my relationship with the Author of the Holy Scriptures as His child. Lectio Divina is definitely a win-win situation in my book.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I never saw that "Navigator" page on Lectio. It is great! I will use it. Thanks, Susanne.


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