I’d like to share with you an ancient form of praying with scripture called Lectio Divina, which is Latin for “divine reading.” Lectio Divina is a monastic form of prayer which first began in the 6th century and was formalized into the current four-step (sometimes five-step) process by the Carthusian monk, Guigo II during the 12th century. The primary aim of Lectio Divina is to help our often-distracted minds focus on the concreate words of our faith present to us in scripture. Often when we pray, we spend all the time talking and none of the time listening. Prayer is a conversational relationship. And just like any good relationship, if all we do it tell our complaints and request to another without ever giving them an opportunity to speak, what kind of a relationship would that be?
Instead, Lectio Divina invites us to take our time in prayer by allowing ourselves time to be in God’s presence within the Bible.
The first step of lectio divina is lectio, which simply means “reading.” Pick a short passage of scripture, beginning with the gospels is typically easiest, and read the passage once through first. The next step is meditatio which means to “meditate,” to mull over what the scripture is saying both in it’s written context, and in how it can apply to your own life today. As you meditate, consider what feelings, emotions, and thoughts come to mind as you re-read the passage again if needed and continue reflecting on how the Holy Spirit is speaking to you through the words of this scripture. The third step is oratio, which means “pray”. Now it’s time to move your meditation to a verbal conversation with God. You have something to converse with him about now. Finally, contemplatio “contemplation” is the step of basking in God’s presence and letting him love you. Some have added a fifth step to the process which is to decide on a simply action or resolution from your time in prayer that you can apply in your life to better help you grow in virtue and put love into practice.