How many times have we approached reading Scripture as if it were a task that needed to be over and done with. Our eyes survey the words, verse by verse, but our mind and hearts are hardly engaged. We are skimming not soaking, we are racing not reflecting. Once the task is completed we go on our way, unmoved and unchanged by the Word of God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and author, had a view quite a bit different than that! He wrote in Life Together,
The Word of Scripture should never stop sounding in your ears and working in you all day long, just like the words of someone you love…Do not ask ‘How shall I pass this on?’ but ‘What does it say to me?’ Then ponder this word long in your heart until it has gone right into you and taken possession of you.
Author and spiritual director, Ruth Haley Barton, makes use of the ancient practice of lectio divina (sacred reading) to layout an approach on how to slow down and hear from God via Scripture. What follows is an adaptation of her suggestions.
In a nutshell lectio divina is involves reading a short passage of Scripture four times, each time interacting with God’s Word in a unique way, with the end goal being a fresh resolved to live it out in our lives.
- Quiet yourself. Get comfortable and remove distractions.
- Read Scripture Passage
- Read it slowly.
- Try reading it aloud.
- Listen for the ‘word’ (or phrase) that catches your attention.
- Take a moment of silence and then repeat the word.
- Read Scripture passage a second time.
- Ask yourself, “What is going on in my life right now that needs to hear this word?
- After reading the Scripture passage for the second time take several moments of silence to reflect.
- Read the passage for a third time.
- Take several moments of silence.
- Allow a spontaneous prayer to emerge from your heart.
- Continue to listen; is God inviting you to act or respond in a certain way to the word you have heard?
- Read the passage for a fourth time.
- Rest in God’s presence.
- Allow your posture of silence to express your openness to God.
- Take the word into your day.
- Resolve to live out what God has shown you.
Journaling fits nicely with lectio divina. Simple start with, “God what I hear you saying to me is…” and then express what you felt and thought as you read and re-read the passage.
Photo Credit – Lectio Divina by depone via Flickr