Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. [1 Samuel 3:9]
God offers us abundant life. Often, however, we have so seized upon controlling our hectic lives, we exile ourselves from experiencing God’s peace and joy. As Trappist monk Thomas Merton writes,
To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.
So how do we give Scripture and the Holy Spirit a spacious place to work in our souls and experience God’s abundant kingdom?
Lectio divina began in the early church of the 200s, as some Christians sought refuge in the desert for devotion to Christ. Lectio divina begins when we withdraw in silence to listen to the speaking of the Holy Spirit through the unhurried, contemplative and prayerful reading of God’s Holy Word. Lectio Divina can follow a variety of formats, but will generally include these elements:
† Silence — We empty ourselves of thoughts, words, and sound so that God’s Spirit may enter. Though silence may be uncomfortable, we do not rush the quiet but wait for God. Silence is a gift. “My soul waits in silence for God alone; from him comes my salvation” [Ps. 62:1].
† Reading — God speaks to us through the divine scripture. We read it slowly with a listening heart. We attend to any word or phrase the Spirit draws to our attention meditate upon it. “My heart stands in awe of your words” [Psalm 119:161].
† Meditation — In awareness of God’s presence, we quietly reflect on where the Holy Spirit has drawn our attention. We gently focus on God, allowing the word of scripture to be God’s personal Word for us here and now.
† Prayer — We ask God to plant the divine Word in our hearts and let it bear fruit. We open ourselves to experience the Holy Spirit speaking to our deepest desires.
† Contemplation — We enter a time of rest in God. We enjoy stillness in God’s presence as two close friends do.
May the Holy Spirit come to you to love and transform you through this ancient method of scripture reading and prayer.
Personal Devotion — Holy Spirit, speak to me through silence and Holy Scripture, directing my days and deeds in peace. Amen.