Contemplative Prayer: also known as Lectio Divina.
Part Six, Blog of Solitude
What Is It?
It’s a Latin term, meaning, “divine reading.” It combines scripture with prayer and becomes an experience for, “praying the scriptures.” It helps in our quest to go deeper to better hear the voice of God.
Let Me Explain
Like all quiet times, begin by being comfortable, preferably in a private place offering silence and solitude. But Lectio Divina can be done anywhere..
A Brief Overview Of The 4 Stages
The Reading: read the Word slowly and reflectively to absorb it. Any scripture works fine, but keeping it to a paragraph in length, or shorter, is probably most effective.
The Reflection: reflect on the text and consider it in such a way that that you receive a blessing, a message from his Word, something from God.
The Response: respond with setting your thinking and thought process aside to allow your heart to speak to God, a response inspired by your reflection on his word. Pray to him, talk to him, share your heart with him.
The Rest: now, as you experience his peace, with your ideas, meditations, and thoughts set aside, you rest in his peace. This is the divine space where you listen at your deepest level as God speaks to you with his still small voice. As you listen, you are affected, instructed, or even altered by his presence.
Time & Structure
The stages of Lectio Divina aren’t rigid rules, but gentle encouragements. The time given to each stage can be shorter or longer. It’s up to you. The progressive nature of the stages should shepherd you towards a deeper and deeper inner silence so the Spirit can increasingly fill the space.
The Practice of Lectio Divina
Begin with prayer. Invite the Spirit to prepare your heart to receive the Word of the Lord.
Read the passage. Listen with the ears of your heart. If desired, read it again, looking for one word, phrase, or thought that jumps up at you. Now say the “one” over and over, repeat it out loud. Savor its meaning.
Reflect more deeply on the one. Relish the words, let them flow deep within you. Be attentive to the thoughts, ideas, and emotions that spring within your heart.
Respond naturally as you continue to reflect on the one. Give a prayer of praise, or thanksgiving, or softly sing a song of praise. Offer your response and then return to focus on the one.
Now just rest in the peace of God. Simply, “be in the presence of God,” as you open yourself to that deeper hearing of God’s Word. If you feel led to go back to the text, then follow the lead of the Spirit.
You can spend two or three minutes on each stage, or five of six, or longer. No rules, no “getting it right.” The right will be what’s right for you
There is nothing mystical, magical, or mysterious about Lectio Divina. It’s a deeper, reverential process of coming into the peace of God through his Word and his Spirit, to experience his blessings and gifts.
From, “The Way of the Heart,” by Henri J. M. Nouwen:
“One of our main problems is that in this chatty society; silence has become a very fearful thing. For most people, silence creates itchiness and nervousness. Many experience silence not as full and rich, but as empty and hollow. For them silence is like a gaping abyss which can swallow them up.”