Lectio divina is Latin for “holy reading” and describes a way of systematically reading the Scriptures and praying so that we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. Scripture is the revelation of God’s heart to us. In carefully reading and internalizing it, we begin to understand what is God’s will and we begin to pray in accordance with his will rather than our own. The Apostle John stated, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
This method of Bible reading and prayer has historical roots to Origen Adamantius (ca. 185– 254), an early Christian scholar and theologian. In September 2005, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime.
How To Get Started
Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures. Adapted from an article by Father Luke Dysinger, the following steps are recommended:
- Choose any text of the Scriptures. Place yourself in a comfortable position and become silent.
- Turn to the text and read it slowly. Take the word or phrase into yourself.
- Speak to God. Use the word or phrase God has given you as a means of transforming the ideas and memories that your reflection has awakened.
- Rest in God’s embrace. And when he invites you to return to your contemplation of his word or to your inner dialogue with him, do so.
- Return several times to the printed text, either to savor the literary context of the word or phrase that God has given or to seek a new word or phrase to ponder. At other times, only a single word or phrase will fill the whole time.
Some Scripture Text to Start With
Use some of the Bible verses below to start Praying the Bible.
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. MATTHEW 6:9-10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. PSALM 51:10
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. PSALM 139:23-24
O Lord, will you revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you. PSALM 85:6
Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me. If you utter worth, not worthless words, you will be my spokesman.” JEREMIAH 15:19a
Restore to us yourself, O Lord, that we may return. Renew our days as of old. LAMENTATIONS 5:21
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. JAMES 5:16
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 CHRONICLES 7:14
I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone … This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of truth. 1 TIMOTHY 2:1,3,4
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. JOHN 17:20-21