Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.
- Lectio (reading)
- Meditatio (meditation)
- Oratio (prayer)
- Contemplatio (contemplation)
So when sitting down to hear from God via Lectio Divina, you choose a rather small passage of Scripture to focus on, usually no more than ten verses. The idea is that you will really get to know the passage. You’re not going for quantity here, so you may start with just two or three verses. You will end up reading the passage around four or five times and focusing in on possibly just one word the Spirit reveals to you.
Here’s a guide to practicing it that I like and have adopted from Dallas Willard’s Hearing God:
Read the passage slowly.
S l o o o o w l y.
Now that the words are familiar, read the passage again.
This time, listen with the ear of your heart for a word or phrase, a detail of the story that shimmers or stands out to you. It may even be a person in the passage that you resonate with.
Do not choose this yourself. Let the Spirit bring it to you. Even if you don’t like it, try to welcome it with meekness and see what happens (James 1:21).
Read the passage again slowly.
As you do so and for a few moments afterward, reflect on the word or phrase that stood out to you.
Sit with it and chew on it over and over. (I’ve heard that the word for meditation was linked to the chewing of cud or a dog chewing on and savoring a bone. This is what you do with the word or phrase. It’s amazing how much will come to you through this process.)
Why do you think these words resonated with you?
Then ask God, “How does this connect with my life today?”
“What do I need to know, or be or do?”
Give yourself a few moments to do this.
Read the passage one last time, preparing yourself for what you want to say to God, about what you think the Spirit might have said to you or what came to you.
Pray however you are led to pray.
You might thank God for something or ask God for something.
Do as you are led.
You may wish to wait on God-to simply be with God.
You may wish to ponder, How did God seem in this passage?
Is there anything about Christ that makes you marvel at Him or makes you want to worship Him?
Contemplation differs from meditation in that you really aren’t thinking during contemplation, just sitting in the presence of God, soaking in it.
For me personally, reading Scripture in this manner has been extremely life-giving to me. I’ve heard from God clearly on so many occasions and been given His peace that I’ve felt in the most real sense. Until diving into this about four years ago, I did not know what I was missing.
Again, let us be clear, we are not talking magical incantations here. We’re not trying to focus on a method but rather further and more deeply focus on God alone by opening ourselves up to hear from Him more clearly. This is a beautiful way that I and thousands of others have found to turn up the volume of Jesus and consequently quiet the noise of the world always rushing in.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I Kings 19:11-13
Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance and secret wonders that fill the world.
-Chasidic saying, eighteenth century
“It’s amazing what I can hear when I shut my big yapper.”
-Me, just now, 2015
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria