Praying with Lectio Divina

Kate Sweet, Pastor of Spiritual Care & Development


This month on Practice@People’s we’re looking at an ancient Christian practice called Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading.” This is a way of praying with scripture that opens a space for God to speak through our imagination, feelings, and thoughts.

Lectio Divina takes you through three readings of a passage of scripture followed by a period of silent contemplation.  In each section of the practice, you are prompted to reflect on the scripture from a different angle. Through this process you are invited to take God's word for you from the page, into your heart and mind, and then back out into your life.

To begin, pick a short passage of scripture to focus on. Here are some suggestions to get started:

            Matthew 5:1-11 (The Beatitudes)

            Mark 4: 35-41 (Jesus Stills a Storm)

            Luke 11:1-13 (Jesus Shows Us How to Pray)

            John 17: 20-26 (Jesus’ Prayer that We May Be One)

            Psalm 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd)

            Psalm 46 (God is Our Refuge)

Once you have selected a passage, find a comfortable, quiet place. If you are new to contemplative practices, it might be helpful to use a gentle timer on your phone. Most people find anywhere from two to five minutes per section to be a good starting point. I find that using a timer is helpful because it allows me to stop thinking about “how much time is left?” and just rest into the time that I have set aside for prayer. Once you are settled, move through the following process:

Lectio (Reading)

First reading of the passage. Listen for a word, phrase, or idea that sticks out or strikes you. Where do you find yourself in this passage?

Meditatio (Meditation)

Second reading of the passage. Continue to meditate on the phrase/word/idea that stuck out to you. Use your imagination and wonder what God may be trying to offer you through whatever tugs at your heart.

Oratio (Speaking/Prayer)

Third reading of the passage. Offer to God through silent or written prayer whatever thoughts, feelings, questions, images, or ideas arose during this reading.

Contemplatio (Contemplation)

Time to just “be” with God in silence. Allow yourself to be open to God’s presence in your life this day. Contemplate how you might live out what has been given to you in this time of prayer (incarnatio).

Kate Sweet