Spiritual Practice: Lectio – a contemplative way of reading the Bible

Lectio, or Lectio Divina (Holy Reading) is an ancient Christian practice, going back to the 3rd century AD. The practice of Lectio was taken up in the sixth century by St. Benedict, who made it part of his Rule – the founding document of Benedictine monks and nuns. Lectio is a contemplative way of reading the Bible – it engages the heart.

So, here’s how to read the Bible in this special way:

Decide

Choose a bible reading to focus on: for Lent, you could use one of the daily readings from the list provided in week one.

Prepare

 Settle quietly and comfortably, and open your time of Lectio with prayer, asking God to guide you and speak with you through this Lectio.

Read

Read your chosen passage three times. It’s important to read slowly, with care and attention.

  • On the first reading, you’re getting to know the passage. What is it about? What do you find interesting or difficult?
  • The second reading is done meditatively. Sometimes you don’t need to read the whole passage again: you may find yourself drawn to a short section, a single verse, or even a single word. Whether you read the whole passage again or just a section, ask yourself what God is saying to you through it. Sometimes this is phrased as ‘my word is…’ 
  • Read the passage, or your chosen section, for a third time and then respond to God. The question in your mind is ‘what does this passage ask of me in my life as a Christian?’ This is sometimes phrased as ‘my prayer is…
Remain

When you’ve finished, be still for a few minutes – not actively thinking or praying, but simply being in God’s presence. When your mind starts to wonder it’s time to finish.

 If you find this practice helpful, you might want to jot things down in a notebook or journal – looking back on what you’ve discovered can be useful. 

If you have internet access there are plenty of online resources to help you. I especially recommend Pray as You Go  which is also available as a smart phone app for Android  or iPhones. There are also many books  available to guide your Lectio reading. I recommend this one