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The Thought Rhyming Practice

Thought Rhyming

see God seeing you

  1. I can see you
  2. I can hear you
  3. I can understand how hard this is for you
  4. I am glad to be with you
  5. I can do something about what you are going through

Step 1) I can see you

The way we respond to the question, “How does God see me?” is key to determining if we will move toward or away from God.  In thought rhyming we write from God’s perspective. God watches us with love and describes to us what He observes. To begin this for yourself, you will describe what is happening around you and inside you (as much as you are able) through the eyes of God.

1. Begin writing about your observable actions and surroundings as if God is describing them back to you.

Examples are:

“I can see you sitting at the table.”

“I see you drinking a cup of coffee.”

“I can see you watching TV.”

“I can see you staring at the computer screen.”

“I saw you pacing back & forth in the dark.”

“I have seen you yelling at your kids.”

2. Write about your body movements, sensations, expressions, or physiological responses that others might not be able to notice with their bare eyes. 

Examples are:

“I can see that your jaws & fists are clenched.”

“I saw the heaviness in your chest making it difficult to breathe.”

“I can see that your shoulders are scrunched up.”

“I see you holding your breath.”

“I can see your heart beating fast.”

“I see that you are about to explode.”

“I can see your eyes tightening as tears are welling up.”

“I saw your mind going blank and your body freezing up.”

“I can see the knots in your stomach churning.”

Step 2) I can hear you

Now we answer the question, “How do I think God hears me?” We write what God is hearing us say out loud as well as what we are thinking internally. Listen as God describes back to you what He hears & write down His description. At this point we are just allowing God to describe and help us bring our thoughts to the surface, regardless of whether we judge them as good or bad. It may be challenging for us to believe that God can hear all our thoughts without condemning us. It is easy to get stuck because we start to judge our thoughts and ourselves. This step is focused on perceiving the fact that God hears all our thoughts. He is allowing us to experience being truly listened to instead of having us experience correction or teaching. In order to stay relationally connected, we must experience being heard.

We may be surprised at the sheer number of thoughts going through our mind. It will be tempting to dismiss many of them. But it is important to get in the habit of writing these thoughts down (naming them), even if they seem unusual or irrelevant, as it can be very helpful to bring to the surface something that needs resolution. In other words, there can be lies or vows embedded in these thoughts that were developed as a way of coping with our pain. When those thoughts remain hidden & are not replaced with truth, we retain pain.

1. Begin writing as God simply says back to you what He hears from your speech & actions.


Examples are:

“I can hear you yelling & screaming.”

“I heard you crying quietly.”

“I can hear you say to your spouse/child/co-worker/parents, ‘I hate you.'”

“Get away from me.”

“I do not trust you.”

“I feel unsure about this situation.”

“You do not know me.”

“I am done with you.”

2. Continue writing about unspoken words in your mind. God simply recognizes what He hears from our inner thoughts. If there are too many thoughts, you can list them in bullet points.

Examples are:

“I hear you judging yourself.”

“I hear your heart & mind racing.”

“I heard the excitement in your voice.”

“I hear you saying, ‘I am dumb. Here we go again!'”

“I have heard you trying to calm yourself.”

“I hear you saying to yourself, ‘I should be angry! It’s not fair. She can’t do this to me. I should have known. I wish I could have done it differently.'”

“I hear the deep desires of your heart.”

“I am hearing your fears that you are too ashamed to acknowledge.”

“I hear the quiet resolution in your heart.”

Step 3) I can understand how big (hard) this is for you

Sometimes we minimize our pain. Often we deny ourselves permission to receive comfort for the seemingly small moments of pain. We minimize our apparently minor trials, compared to the perceived bigger challenges of others. We do this to ourselves & others. God, however, sees, hears, knows, & understands why a particular issue is so big for us. God knows our history. No matter how insightful a therapist may be or wise a friend is, only God can ultimately know the intricacies of our lives & experiences.

Validation moves mental experiences toward resolution by accurately stating their “size,” that is to say, intensity & impact. Without validation we will not be comforted. Comfort follows validation & gives us peace. When we validate how big or hard our experiences were, we can then calm our brain.

In this third step we put in words our impression of God’s accurate understanding of how important something is to us. He is able to illuminate our responses & grant us forgiveness, understanding, & comfort. He also gives us a model to follow. Through this step we may discover we are reacting to something in the past.

Examples are:

“I can see this is a pretty big deal for you.”

“This feels all-consuming for you.”

“It looks like this is about to overtake you.”

“This is as big as when your parents announced their divorce.”

“This is a big deal, but workable.”

“I understand how sad you feel about this.”

“I understand how angry you are; it makes sense to me.”

“I understand why this is so hard for you. You have always felt alone so even though you understand in your head, your heart is about to burst with fear.”

“I understand why this is so big & scary for you. I know you feel like you are not able to get my attention, and that scares you. I know that growing up, you or your experiences were never the priority for your parents.”

Step 4) I am glad to be with you, and treat your weaknesses tenderly

We think that our sin or weaknesses will keep God away from us. We might even think God cannot associate with sinners. However, God is always glad to be with us just as we are. Whether we feel connected to God or not, none of our weaknesses keep Him away. In God’s presence we are transformed. Peter was restored once he experienced that Jesus still wanted him in spite of his weakness (John 21).

In step 4 you will write God’s confirmation of His love for you by hearing Him say, “I am glad to be with you, My child.” Write what you perceive God might be saying to you in a kind, tender, & loving way.

Examples are:

“I am glad to be with you, and I see your weaknesses tenderly.”

“I am always glad to interact with you anytime including this moment of frustration/pain/sadness. You might judge & condemn your lack of trust in My goodness & love, but I never condemn you. Rather, I am glad & thankful that you are here with me.”

Step 5) I can do something about what you are going through

God not only validates our pain, but also guides us in our difficult situations.

In step 5 of thought rhyming, we write down what God might be saying to us about how He will be with us & help us. We may be reminded of God’s faithfulness in the past & given hope of His continuing work in, around, and through us. Scripture quotes & stories often come to mind during this time. Sometimes we find God asking us to do the difficult & hard work of living as His children. While reminding us who we are, God invites us to live according to our true heart. The promise of His constant presence, His unfailing love & His pure goodness will sustain us. Write your impression of what God is offering you.

Examples are:

“I will help you. I will help you to continue to see more clearly who I am and what I have been doing in your life and in this world. I will continue to make your heart tender so that the seeds of My Word & My Spirit will be able to grow & thrive in your life. I have you in the palm of My hands. I love you.”

“My Spirit will hold you. We are praying for you. We are upholding you. We are protecting you. We are shielding you & always encouraging you. Look up, My child, in your despair & see through the eyes of heaven. We will never let you go, & we will never let you stay down. We love you intensely & without borders. Our love for you is greater than your inability to trust & your idolatry & your fear. We will get through this. We are protecting your children. We are your God, the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. We are powerful beyond measure.”

“I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Meditate on My goodness & on My truth. You will begin to see clearly, & the spirit of confusion & self-condemnation will leave. I will be with you tonight & give you good rest. I want you to sleep knowing that we can resolve this together. I will give you the words to speak to clarify the situation, & I will give you a heart of flesh so that you may be able to see from her perspective.”

These five steps form the sequence of thought rhyming with God. His perfect attunement & validation reveal to us that He clearly sees. God is glad to be with us in all circumstances. He is always initiating the restoration of our relationships with Him & others. He is continuously working on our behalf. “Immanuel Journaling” allows us to be more aware of these truths.


church fathers

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” I agree wholeheartedly. Which is why I’ve been reading a lot of the earliest Christian writings this year. It is good to be reminded of what the first Christians thought and believed and held on to for dear life.

One of those early church fathers was Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373) who wrote the amazing work “On The Incarnation.” [There were early church mothers too, quite prominent in the early church, but unfortunately the culture being what it was, we have very little of what they said or wrote.] In the English translation I that read, it had an introduction by C. S. Lewis, and in it he wrote that he encouraged his students, and all Christians, to read an ancient work for each modern one. Why? Well for one, the ancient classics have been tried and proven for centuries. Modern works are still “on trial.” The classics are classics because they transcend time and culture. Also, they take us back to our foundations, and those early church leaders were dedicated to preserving in written form the basics of Christianity. It is always good to be reminded of these truths we hold as core to our belief, indeed, to our lives.

Boniface Ramsey is an author who has studied the early church fathers and translated many of  their works himself. He lists what they affirm as broad theological propositions  that have remained central to Christian orthodoxy across almost all denominational lines. They are:

  • Belief in a triune God
  • The fully human and fully divine natures of Christ
  • The redemptive efficacy of Christ’s death on the cross
  • The absolute authority and infallibility of Scripture
  • The fallen condition of humanity
  • The significance of baptism and Holy Communion
  • The vital importance of prayer and a disciplined spiritual life

Ramsey says, “Belief in these things, which the fathers unanimously proclaimed, even if they proclaimed them in different ways, continues to be the distinguishing marks of  Christianity to this day.”


And I would say, just to be crystal clear, that it is implicit from this list that they believed in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (redemptive efficacy), which is why it is so prominent in all of the early creeds. And they and the biblical writers believed that Jesus was in fact God (YHWH) in human form. On this they are quite clear.

So there you have it, a quick look at those basics of our faith, that are always good to review.  I am amazed at how many people claiming to be Christians have a problem with multiple things listed here. Don’t get me wrong, this is no checklist mentality, but rather the stuff of life given to us by Jesus Himself. If you have issue with any of these basic foundational beliefs of our faith, I encourage you to look into them more deeply.

I hope this has been helpful!

The Meaning of The Ripple Effect Logo


The Ripple Effect logo was created by my talented friend, Jill Sauerburger. It is beautiful to me.

I thought it might be a good idea to take a moment and explain the significance behind it. It’s good to pause from time to time in order to review and remind ourselves of the meaning represented by those simple visuals we may encounter on a daily basis.

Symbols and icons representing rich truths are powerful and memorable. This logo was created with purpose, not necessarily just to look nice.

First off, let us simply say that the concept of “the ripple effect” reminds us that everything we do matters.Everything we say and do affects someone else. Actually, a lot of someone elses. It’s been reported that even the most introverted person will have a significant effect on ten thousand people in their lifetime. Everything we do affects the world in some way.

So this is represented by the most obvious part of the picture, the ripple right in the middle caused by the dipping leaf. What I like about the look of the branch, leaves, and ripples is that they are not neat, perfect, angular lines. It’s messy. Our journey and pursuit of God is not always perfect or goes as planned and predicted. This reminds me that the spiritual life is more about obedience than it is agenda. The word “THE” being on its side also lends to showing the reality of these unpredictable, not-always-how-we-think-it-will-look ways of God.

Notice how the ripples go out of the picture into the word “ripple.” What we do affects more than we think, see, anticipate, or know. What we do and say ripples outside of our normal, limited view. This should sober us, but also excite us to trust in what we do for the love of God, even if we don’t actually see the effects ourselves. They may just be outside our view.

The word “ripple” is all lower case. So many times we don’t feel our words or actions are significant. They seem so small, unheard, or unheeded. But the effect is greater than we know, thus the big bold word “EFFECT.” Do small things with great love and you will most certainly change the world for the better!

Finally, my favorite and most important part of the picture is that which you do not see. The branch isn’t hanging from mid air. In order for it to keep dipping in the water, it must be connected to a tree. This is Jesus, the true Vine, and us, the branches, from my favorite passage in all of Scripture–John 15:1-11. Not being able to see the tree reminds us that God is truly ineffable. And yet, we know He is there. He must be always there.

How beautiful a branch is when it is gently swayed by the wind. Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to the wind, the breath that moves us. Only a branch connected to the vine can be moved in this way. Disconnected, lying on the ground, not much happens other than withering.

May we stay connected to Jesus in order to affect the world supernaturally and forever, for good and for love–for God.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this, and that you will be reminded of these truths whenever you see The Ripple Effect logo!

Meet Madame Jeanne Guyon

madame guyon

[click on picture to see full size]

Forget yourself. Think only of Him. In doing so, your heart will remain free and at peace.

It is essential to continually submit your will to God’s will and renounce every private inclination as soon as it arises–no matter how good it appears. You must want only what God has willed from all eternity. Forget the past. Devote the present to God. Be satisfied with the present moment which brings God’s eternal order to you. Attribute nothing that happens to you as coming from man, but regard everything, except sin, as coming from God.

-from Experiencing God Through Prayer p.28


12.30.15–>”My 11 Favorite books I read this year”

If you’re interested, I thought I’d share my eleven favorite books that I read and finished this year, as well as a short word on why I liked them so much.

Not everyone has the time to read that I am blessed with, so you want to be selective, and maybe this will help pique your interest to a few wonderful writings.

  1. Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was (2012)Gerhard Lohfink  This is probably the deepest book on Jesus I’ve ever read. And yet it is extremely accessible. I now feel I have finally started to grasp Jesus of Nazareth in His Old Testament & Jewish context. Incredibly enlightening. You think the subtitle is a little bold and daring, like “Who do you think you are to say what He wanted & who He was?” Then you start reading. And you’re like, “Oh…..Wow…..OK.” A big takeaway: Jesus did not do away with the Old Testament; He geniously interpreted it rightly…as no one else ever did.                                             Lohfink1
  2. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (2014)-Greg McKeown I’m listening to this for a second time because it was so very good and practically helpful. “Sacrifice the trivial many for the vital few” is the mantra throughout this book, as well as “Less but better.” Most of our life is noise, and here’s how to do what really matters. It’s not that this info is terribly new, it’s that McKeown’s delivery of it is so terribly awesome! I listen to a little bit of this almost daily as a constant, helpful reminder.                                               essentialism
  3. Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Interactive Christology (2004)-Michael Casey This is also the deepest book I’ve probably ever read on Jesus. It is deep in the heart/emotional sense. This Aussie monk, Casey, has become one of my absolute favorite authors this past year after reading Toward God and now this. Amazingly in tune with humanity and able to communicate it more viscerally than most anyone I’ve read.                        fully human fully divine
  4. Desiring God’s Will: Aligning Our Hearts With the Heart of God (2005)-David Benner This is the 3rd book of a most amazing trilogy, the first two being Surrender to LoveThe Gift of Being Yourself. I’d probably put this trilogy second to the Star Wars trilogy. Each one of these I end up putting my highlighter away because I’ll just end up highlighting the entire book. A major helpful idea Benner illumines is the difference of willfulness and willingness, and how it changes our lives.  benner DGW
  5. Escaping the Matrix: Setting Your Mind Free to Experience Real Life in Christ (2005)-Greg Boyd & Al Larson This is one of the absolute most practical books on how to really live your actual life in Christ. There’s neuroscience, exercises, examples, and plenty of Scripture. So many Christians are not free because they have not allowed Jesus into their subconscious, which is way faster than your conscious mind, and dictates reactions and deep emotions. This book shows you how to let Christ in to the deep recesses of your heart and life. I’ve used one of the exercises, “Experiencing Jesus”, with a couple of groups now, and it’s been deeply moving. escaping matrix
  6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2012)-Charles Duhigg An extremely well written and fun read on the science of habit. You are a product of your habits, whether you like it or not, for good or for bad! Whether you know it or not, you are in the habit loop of “Cue-Routine-Reward.” Wake up to it, and harness its power!                                power of habit
  7. Abide in Christ (1882) Andrew Murray Every word of every book I’ve ever read of Andrew Murray is absolute gold. There is never a doubt about this guy’s devotion to Christ, or that he was totally tuned in to the Holy Spirit. You just can’t fake it and write the way this guy writes! I read a couple of Murray books every year no matter what. He wrote a lot of his books in the format of 31 short chapters so as to be digested over the span of a month. If you’ve never read Andrew Murray, then you’re probably not a real Christian. I’M KIDDING. But seriously, go read one of his books immediately.                                                      Abide in Christ-Murray
  8. The Illumined Heart: The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation (2001)-Frederica Mathewes-Green This little 102 page gem was the “surprise hit” of the year for me. I found it in the clearance section of Half Price Books, not knowing of this author. It looked quite intriguing, and proved to be very formative for me. She reminds us of the mind set of the earliest Christians from the first and second centuries. Their goal was to be one with Christ–no matter what. Their practices all led toward that end. (We sent “Is Theosis Our Telos?” based off this book.)   illumined heart
  9. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (2010)-Nicholas Carr As the title states, we are becoming more shallow due to what the internet is doing to our brains. Here’s what’s been said of this masterpiece: “Eloquent,” “Riveting,” “Rewarding,” “Revelatory,” “Grade: A,” “Absorbing [and] Disturbing,” “Essential,” “Provocative,” “A Book Everyone Should Read.” I agree with all of these descriptions. It is incredibly fascinating, packed with history, science, and page-turning eloquence. This was very enlightening, and confirmed many suspicions of the internet dumbing us down as we sacrifice ourselves to it. Also, it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.                   shallows
  10. The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Pespective on Christ and His Message (2008) Cynthia Bourgeault This gives a different angled look at Jesus, helping you to see Him through, most likely, a new lens. She looks at Jesus through the wisdom tradition, yet without taking away from His divinity. And that, is something I really loved about this book. A couple of takeaways were The Welcoming Practice and Kenosis.                                           wisdom jesus
  11. Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God–A Guide to Contemplation (2004)-James Finley One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, to put it simply. And possibly my favorite cover of all time. The title says it all, what most of my life is about these days. So I loved this book with the deepest of loves. Just now I opened the book randomly to page 143, where I have this highlighted: “We meditate that we might live in a habitual awareness of God living in us, for us, and by us in all that we simply are.” BOOM.                                                  christian meditation

This has been fun! Enjoy your day!!

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina

“Let the world be silent in your presence, Lord, so that I may hear what the Lord God may say in my heart. Your words are so softly spoken  that no one can hear them except in a deep silence. But to hear them lifts him who sits alone and in silence completely above his natural powers, because he who humbles himself will be lifted up. He who sits alone and listens will be raised above himself.”

-Guigo II

✙Latin term for “Divine Reading” sometimes called “sacred reading.”

✙An ancient monastic practice that employs a particular method of reading. It is a unique approach to reading that enables you to open up the time you spend with the written word so that your reading becomes a doorway to meditation, prayer, and contemplation.

✙Goes back to Origen in the 3rd century, Benedict & his order in the 6th, and Guigo II’s formal instructions in the 12th.

✙Powerful tool for opening up to the presence of God in your life, in your interaction with sacred Scripture. Opens you up to allow God to lead you where He chooses. You do not choose. Don’t seek to control but rather to yield. The text reads you, as they say.

✙Not mere intellectual exploration, but actually becoming intimate with God. Not studying God, but getting to know God.

✙Before the printing press & modern ideas of scholarship, research, & academic pursuit of knowledge, those who wrestled with the words of Scripture did so to acquire a spiritual, rather than intellectual understanding of the text.

* It was not an exercise in “figuring out” Christianity, but rather a practice for encountering God through the medium of the written word. The goal of Lectio Divina is simply to create a space where God may encounter you via the  sacred word.

✙The ancient spiritual practice of Lectio Divina suggests that, in terms of fostering intimacy with God, there are approaches far more valuable than mere study and analysis. That may stimulate the brain, but not transform the heart. Knowing about God more than knowing God.

✙People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to.

✙Some say it is even dangerous to have someone read the Bible without teaching them how to read it.

✙The Bible is best engaged in a spirit of silence, of meditation and reflection, and most important of all, in the context of prayer in order to realize its power to transform us. Silence is key.

✙That which is infinite cannot be put into a finite container.

✙A new way if reading- it does not change the Bible, but how we approach it. That is the secret of Lectio Divina’s power.

✙Reading a spiritual text in the “normal” way of reading for personal mastery or control can sometimes have the unintended consequence of pushing God further into hiding.

✙An act of slow, deliberate prayer.

✙The frenetic chatter in your mind is what Buddhists call the “monkey mind.”

✙In contemplative prayer, you listen in receptive silence, and hold yourself open for the purpose of fostering the experience of God’s  presence within you. [Jn.14:17]


From Hearing God by calls Willard

If we humble ourselves and seek God, He will respond (2 Chron. 7:14).

3 general problem areas:

  1. God’s communication comes in many, various forms
  2. Wrong motives for seeking to hear from God
  3. Misconceiving the nature of our heavenly Father and His intent for us


Our failure to hear God has its deepest roots in a failure to understand, accept, and grow into conversational relationship with God.

Guidelines for hearing from God–it is two way!

  1. Love God with all our being–our communion provides context for communication
  2. Mere humans can talk with God, i.e. Moses, Elijah, David, Peter, Paul, Jesus. there is a “humble arrogance” in the question, “Who, me, Lord?” His communication with us doesn’t make us important.
  3. Hearing God doesn’t make us righteous. The infallibility of the Messenger and the message does not guarantee the infallibility of our reception.


From Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

 Lectio divina is a way of reading Scriptures that is congruent with the way Scriptures serve the Christian community as a way of God’s revelation of Himself to us. To discipline us into appropriate ways of understanding and receiving this text so that it is formative for the way we live our lives, not merely making an impression on our minds and feelings. It intends the reading of Scripture to be a permeation of our lives by the revelation of God.

Reading the Bible, if we do not do it rightly, can get us into a lot of trouble. For one, we’ll use it ignorantly, endangering our lives as well as those around us. Secondly, intoxicated with power, we’ll use it ruthlessly and violently.

Caveat Lector. Reader beware. It’s not ours to do with as we please. It is God’s to reveal to us as He pleases. Luke 10:26 says, “How do you read?” not “What do you read?” It’s not a problem of what we read, but how we read it. The scholar wants to dissect and analyze, depersonalizing God’s word. But they are words to be listened to, submitted to, obeyed, lived. Jesus tells a story instead of inviting him to a Bible study. Scripture can’t be handled by means of definition now, but only by participation. Jesus answers questions with invitations. He insists on participation. Live what you read. Read to live. Lectio Divina cultivates this personal, participatory attentiveness and thus trains us in the discipline of reading Scripture rightly.

It’s bringing dead words written to life–resurrection. Lectio Divina is the deliberate and intentional practice of making the transition from a kind of reading that treats and handles, however reverently, Jesus dead to a way of reading that frequents the company of friends who are listening to, accompanying, and following Jesus alike.

Words written are radically removed from their originating context, which is the living voice. The moment a word or sentence is written, it is detached from its origins and lands on the page as isolated as an artifact in a museum or a specimen in a laboratory. Now we can label it and define it. The less context we have, the more exact we can be. Context contaminates and interferes with precision. But not so with words. The more “in context” we are when language is used, the more likely we are to get it. The word spoken is immensely more rich than the word written. We do not read the Bible in order to reduce our lives to what is covenant to us or manageable by us–we want to get in on the great invisibles of the Trinity, the soaring adorations of the angels, the quirky cragginess of the prophets, and…Jesus.

“Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

If we are to get the full force of the word, we need to recover its atmosphere of spokeness. Many times we find that mere words leave us empty, not taking root in our lives. Lectio Divina is the strenuous effort (formidable discipline) that the Christian community gives to rehydrating the Scriptures so that they are capable of holding their own original force and shape in the heat of the day, maintaining their contact long enough to get fused with or assimilated into our context, the world we inhabit, the clamor of voices in the daily weather and work in which we live. It is the task of Lectio Divina to get those words heard and listened to, words written in ink now written in blood.

A way of reading that guards against depersonalizing the text into an affair of questions and answers, definitions and dogmas. It abandons the attempt to take control of the text. A way of reading that intends the fusion of the entire biblical Story with my story. Living the text. Listening and responding. Joining. We recover the context. Lectio Divina is a way of reading that becomes a way of living.

Psalm 40:6 “Aznayim karith li”

The primary organ for receiving God’s revelation is not the eye that sees but the ear that hears–which means that all of our reading of Scripture must develop into a hearing of the word of God. Print technology, a wonderful thing in itself, has put millions and millions of Bibles in our hands, but unless these Bibles are embedded in the context of a personally speaking God, a prayerfully listening community, we who handle these Bibles are at special risk. If we reduce the Bible to a tool to be used, the tool builds up calluses on our hearts.


Lectio divina consists of:

  • Lectio (reading)
  • Meditatio (meditation)
  • Oratio (prayer)
  • Contemplatio (contemplation)


We hear before we read. We learn language via hearing. The written word has the potential to resurrect the speaking voice and listening ear, but it does not insist upon it. The word can just sit there on the page and be analyzed or admired or ignored. Just because we have read it doesn’t mean we have heard it. Just because we have looked the word up in our dictionary and have carefully cross-referenced it doesn’t guarantee that we have listened to and heard the voice of the living God.

Metaphor. If we don’t appreciate the way a metaphor works, we will never comprehend the meaning of the text (Rose of Sharon Song.2:1). If we assume “literal” is the only means to “serious” we are going to be in trouble much of the time. For a metaphor is literally a lie. Metaphor is a language that contains an “is” and an “is not,” held in irresolvable tension (Sondra Scheiners). It takes you to a deeper involvement, below the surface. If we suppress the “is” we kill the metaphor and end up with a mummified corpse of its meaning. If we suppress the “is not” we literalize the metaphor and end up with a junkyard of wrecked and rusted out words. Metaphor treated literally is simply absurd. But if we let it have its way with us, it pushes us to clarity at a different level. God’s action and presence among us is so beyond our comprehension that sober description and accurate definition are no longer functional ( a motive for metaphor). A metaphor is a word that bears a meaning beyond its naming function; the “beyond” extends and brightens our comprehension rather than confusing it. the language of metaphor demonstrates the interconnectedness of all words. This is “association” in mind mapping. That is why metaphor holds such a prominent place in Scripture, in which everything is in movement, finding its place in relation to the word that God speaks. Metaphor does not explain; it does not define; it draws us away from being outsiders, to being insiders, involved with all reality spoken into being by God’s word. We are residents in a home interpenetrated by Spirit–God’s, mine, yours. Each word draws us closer to where we come from. the word metaphor signals transcendence and encounter with the One who speaks everything into being. this is the kind of reading which Scripture, filled with metaphor, insists.


Meditation moves from the words of the text to the world of the text. The world of the text is far larger and more real than our minds and experience (Rom.11:33). Meditation is the aspect of spiritual reading that trains us to read Scripture as a connected, coherent whole, not a collection of inspired bits and pieces.

The Scriptures are the revelation of a personal, relational, incarnational God to actual communities of men and women with names in history. Meditation is the primary way in which we guard against the fragmentation of our Scripture reading into isolated oracles. It is the powerful employ of imagination in order to become friends with the text. It must not be confused with fancy or fantasy. It doesn’t make things up.

Rumination–letting the images and stories of the entire revelation penetrate our understanding. Fancy creates a new world for you; imagination gives you insight into the old world. No text can be understood out of its entire context. The most “entire” text is Jesus. Meditation discerns the connections and listens for the harmonies that come together in Jesus.

We meditate to become empathetic with the text.


The response to God of, “Oh, this has to do with ME!”

The foundational presupposition of all prayer is that God reveals Himself personally by means of language. The essential reality of prayer is that its source and character are entirely in God. The Scriptures, read and prayed, are our primary and normative access to God as He reveals Himself to us. Prayer detached from Scripture, from listening to God, disconnected from God’s word to us, short-circuits the relational language that is prayer.

Our primary shaping influence for prayer is Psalms and Jesus.

Prayer is engaging God. For most of us it takes years and years to exchange our dream world for the real world. Prayer is offering ourselves, just as we are, to God. Prayer is access to everything that God is for us: holiness, justice, mercy, forgiveness, sovereignty, blessing, vindication, salvation, love, majesty, glory.

Hebrews 7:25. This is the most important thing to know about prayer, not that we should pray or how we should pray but that Jesus is right now praying for us (Heb.4:16, Jn.17).

We come to be formed and defined not by the sum total of our experiences, but by the Father, Son, and Spirit to whom and by whom we pray.

God’s word reveals a reality so much bigger than our ego-centered world, that we aren’t expected to grasp it all at once. He is patient with us. Prayer is the way we work our way out of the cramped world of self into the self-denying but spacious world of God. It’s getting rid of self so we can be all soul-God-aware, God-dimensioned. Prayer is the process of getting use to God’s world, God’s reality as He made it. God never said it would be easy, but it’s the way things are–this is the way the world is, the way we are, the way God is. Do you want to live in the real world? This is it. God doesn’t reveal it to us by His word so we can know about it, He continues the revelation in us as we pray and participate in it. We pray what we read, working our lives into active participation.


Living the text. Becoming aware of the total surrounding context. To live the words in the presence of God.

If Lectio Divina is to have currency in the Christian community today, contemplation simply must be reclaimed as essential in all reading and living of Scripture. Not an option, but necessary.

The assumption underlying contemplation is that Word and life are at root the same thing. There is no word of God that God does not intend to be lived by us. All words are capable of being incarnated, because all words originate in the Word made flesh. Contemplatives look around and within for the foot that fits the footprint (Scripture).

Contemplatio, unlike the other three, is not something we self-consciously do; it happens, it is a gift, it is something to which we are receptive and obedient. Infused. You can’t produce it. You can only be ready and prepare for it. Relax, rest, and receive.

Lectio divina is not a methodical technique for reading the Bible. It is a cultivated, developed habit of living the text in Jesus’ name. This is the way, the only way, that the Holy Scriptures become formative in the Christian church and become salt and leaven in the world.

It’s amazing how many ways we devise for using the Bible to avoid a believing obedience.