By Joshua Porter
Listen to this short teaching as you prepare for this week's practice.
Read this overview
Week 5 introduces the ancient practice of lectio divina, or “spiritual reading.” Lectio divina is not a new method of Bible Study. Whereas study of the Bible sets its focus on learning, lectio divina is an ancient time-tested method of meeting God in the Scriptures. In doing so, the disciple allows the Scriptures (in cooperation with the Spirit) to lead the reader into further intimacy with God as they are shaped into the image of Jesus in the process. The practice consists of five distinct movements:
1) Preparing to meet with God
2) Reading (lectio)
3) Reflection (meditatio)
4) Response (oratio)
5) Rest (contemplatio)
Begin with silence and prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together before spending a brief moment in silence. Hardness of hearing is an unfortunate side effect of the frenetic pace in which many of us conduct our lives. When your community comes together in the hopes of speaking to and hearing from God, even a momentary measure of silence can work to slow and silence the swirling chaos around us, that we might hear what God is saying in and through one another.
Debrief last week’s practice in small groups (15-20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each.
Spend a few minutes catching up before you discuss about the following debrief questions:
- How did it go?
- Was it easy or difficult?
- What did you hear God say?
Open the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have someone read Joshua 1v7-9 aloud
Talk about the coming week’s practice as a Community (10-30 minutes)
Having established a time and place that are both quiet and free from distraction, set aside 3-5 times this week to practice lectio divina.
Any passage of Scripture can be utilized for the practice of lectio divine. Here are a few suggestions with which to start:
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 100
- John 15v1-17
- Romans 12
After selecting one passage, read and move slowly through each of the five movements of spiritual reading.
- Prepare to meet with God: Turn your phone off and leave it another room. Situate yourself comfortably in a quiet, solitary place. Calm your body and quiet your mind before God as you work to prepare your heart to receive what God has spoken, and to respond accordingly. Finally, invite the Holy Spirit to guide your thinking and feeling as you read.
- Read (lectio): Read the passage slowly and carefully. Take your time. As you move through the text, pay close attention to what words and ideas draw your attention in unique ways. When your focus is drawn to a particular word or thought, pause momentarily to reflect on them with specificity.
- Reflect (mediatio): Upon completing the passage, return to the beginning and read again. On your second journey through the text, allow the text to connect with you personally. Which words or phrases assume a particular resonance with your heart, your season of life, your person in this moment. Posit the following questions: What do I need to know, or be, or do in light of the text? What does this mean for my life today?
- Respond (oratio): Talk to God about your experience.
- Rest (contemplatio): Pause to sit in God’s presence before fleeing from the moment. You might express wonder, awe, gratitude, or praise through words, or you might allow yourself to feel and experience these things quietly before God.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- Do you actually enjoy reading the Scriptures, or does it feel like a chore? Why?
- When you read the Scriptures, do you feel as though you actually meet with and connect with God? Why or why not?
- What makes lectio divina different than “bible study” or a teaching?