Lectio Divina…

2 John

2 John

Happy Easter! Hope you are having an inspired Holy Week!

For those of you unfamiliar with contemplative Christianity, you may look at the title of this post and have this reaction: Say what?

It’s okay. A few short months ago I was right there with you. But, Lectio Divina is now one of my favorite ways to read my Bible. Thus, let’s get an overview of this prayer and reading practice.

First, it’s pronounced: Lexio Deeveena. Yep, it took me a while to learn to pronounce it that way, too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really help because there are another slew of Latin words that comprise the different parts of Lectio Divina that you also have to learn. (Egad.)

Here are the parts, one version of their pronunciation, and a quick definition of each:

  1. Lectio – Reading.
  2. Meditatio – pronounced med-ee-tah-tee-oh – meditation on the reading.
  3. Oratio – pronounced or-rah-tee-oh – prayer.
  4. Contemplatio – pronounced cone-tem-plah-tee-oh – contemplative prayer.
  5. Compassio – pronounced comb-pahs-see-oh – carry the word.

In part 1, Lectio; the reader reads a passage of Scripture, usually a few verses (probably not from Numbers!) and reads it slowly, with the intention of listening for what God might want to say to the reader about the selected verses. The reader hopes to be drawn to a word or phrase.

In part 2, Meditatio, the reader reads the verses again and asks God why he/she was drawn to that word or phrase. Is there an invitation there? A comfort there? A challenge?

In part 3, Oratio, the reader reads the verses again and then has a “dialogue” with God in prayer about the word or phrase and hopes to hear from God inwardly what God intends for the reader to learn or discern. This dialogue continues until there are distractions (and personally, I’d give this some time even if there ARE distractions!)

In part 4, Contemplatio, the reader simply rests and allows the Holy Spirit to simply continue praying on our behalf within us. Sometimes interesting things happens during this time and it’s usually a challenge to just be with God!

In part 5, Compassio, the reader looks for a word or phrases that will be easy to take with them throughout the day. I call it my “lesson for the day” time. Imagine what would happen if we engaged in this every day? Wow. It’s mind boggling.

There are a lot of variations to Lectio Divina, so I highly encourage you to google it online to your heart’s content and find other unique ways of engaging with the Word in this way.

One of the first passages that I studied was the Mary and Martha passage. I decided to read it three times, emphasizing different words in the passage. I didn’t get fussy about which words I chose. I just took the first word of each sentence; then the second word of each sentence; and then the 3rd word in each sentence of the same passage. In my 2nd reading of this passage, I emphasized this sentence this way: “Martha HAD a sister named Mary…”

I stopped dead in my tracks when I read it that way. (Mind you I’ve grown up all my life with this same passage and it never stopped me before.) Dead is an interesting word for me to use here, because when I emphasized the word HAD, I realized that one of Martha’s oversights that day was to be thankful she even had a sister! I’m not a Biblical historian so I don’t know if this passage follows Jesus raising Martha’s brother, Lazarus, from the dead or not, but if it does, Martha should have had a huge appreciation for her siblings just being alive!

I just lost my brother a few years ago and thus, that “had” was huge for me. I no longer have that sibling around me to help me when needed. He was a HUGE influence in my life and I can no longer rely upon that help anymore. That brother’s help was always just a phone call away and now it’s gone. The loss is still difficult to endure.

Mary, on the other hand, probably sensed that her time with Jesus was quite limited–that He might not be around for her to listen and learn from in the near future and thus, she put aside menial tasks to just enjoy the privilege of having him in her home. Keep in mind that women were segregated from men in the Temple, so even going to church to hear Jesus was not what we women enjoy now. This was rare–to host the Master in her home and to hear him directly teach and interact with others.

Reading this passage this way required me to ask, “What am I failing to appreciate in others because I’m too consumed with my to do list???” I need to stop what I’m doing and listen. I need to stop what I’m doing and enjoy. I need to stop what I’m doing and give thanks for that privilege. The day is coming when that won’t be true and I never completely know when that time is up!

I write this today as the news is covering the Brussels attacks. If ever there was a more poignant day to remember to enjoy and learn from other people, it’s today.

And now you know why I so love Lectio Divina. Ready to get started yourself? Read below.

Lectio Challenge # 1: Resolve to do this ancient prayer and reading practice each day for the next 5 days with 5 of the following Scripture passages (Which 5 are calling to you?). It is Holy Week, after all! Read aloud, if at all possible–it does make a difference (I suggest you journal after your time of reading and praying, so you can refer back often to what God shows you.):

  • Psalm 1 (Two Options)
  • Psalm 8 (Lord, Who Are We?)
  • Matthew 13: 47-50 (Parable of the Net)
  • Matthew 13: 14-16 (Are You Seeing?)
  • Luke 8:5-8; 11-15 (Parable of the Sower)
  • Luke 11: 5-8 (Keep Knocking)
  • Luke 12: 4-5 (Fear)
  • Luke 12: 29-34 (Find the Kingdom)
  • Luke 19: 11-27 (Parable of the Coins)
  • 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 (My Grace is Sufficient)


Lectio Challenge 2: Do Lectio Divina with a friend or group of friends some time in the next month. Maybe gather a group at your church? Start a Facebook Group and do it online? Skype it so one can read aloud and just let the others hear the Scripture being read aloud?

Lectio Challenge 3: Google Lectio Divina and create a notebook of different ways to use this practice and also a list of Scriptures that might be great ones to use with Lectio Divina.

Lectio Challenge 4: Share your Lectio experiences and insights by commenting below this post! You never know when God is using your experience/insight to bless someone else.

Friday’s Post: Slow Reader Friday and Book Selection Announcement

You Might Also Like: Contemplative Meditation; Looking for God in Your Journal; and Homeostasis and Change

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. November 2nd, 2019 | Christina Johns says:

    I participated in a Lectio Divina session years ago on a church choir retreat. I really got a lot out of it spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. I had fun! I particularly enjoyed picking one word out of the particular scripture I had to meditate heavily on. I’ll be presenting Lectio Divina to the women’s group at a church I’ve been attending for the past five years. I’ll try to remember to let you know how it goes!

  2. December 19th, 2019 | maryann says:

    Would love to know how it went! Hope God blesses your offering!

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