Often called the Lectio Divina, simply means as we read His Word we can pray too.
It is about integrating our prayer and Scripture life for greater spiritual stimulation that leads to greater understanding of our Lord and then greater application of His precepts. As we read God's Word we can and should be praying to our Lord, too. This combines two essential aspects of our Christian walk, Bible reading and prayer, used together for our personal impact of faith and synergy to impact our faith and church. The goal is growing in Christ by praying in and with the Scriptures for greater and deeper (meaning allowing His percepts to go deep in you not uncover hidden meanings that are not there) understanding, worship, and intimacy in God's presence to benefit our faith, character, and spiritual growth.
How is this done? Read His Word, the Bible, and pray to Christ as Lord simultaneously. This method has been used for centuries and by the Reformers too, it is for our spiritual growth allows us to recognize and commune in His presence as we also learn His instructions and pray.
The Lectio Divina is from the Latin term meaning "reading the Divine" or more accurately applied as "praying in or with Scripture." Basically, this means as we read His Word, we also allow it to be planted in us and for Him to communicate with us through it. Thus, it has biblical roots. This is what James called the "Implanted Word" (James 1:18-22). The call is to take His Word, the Scriptures, and engage it through our study and prayer, thus allowing Christ to plant it in us just like a gardener would plant a tree. Then, we allow our prayer and efforts in Him and the work of the Spirit to grow the tree of our faith in order to produce the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives that will impact others around us (Psalm 119; John 17:17; Rom. 1:2; Gal 5:21-23; Eph. 1:11-14; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1: 3-11, 20-21).
It is important to note for this practice to work, be Biblical and effective, we are to "contemplate" and "deliberate," basically means we are to focus, ponder, and reflect upon Christ, pay attention to Him and give Him our total concentration as LORD over us. So we can learn and grow and then apply His instructions, so, we put Him and foremost. As we pray we read, as we read we pray, and as we do both (Jos. 1:6; Psalm 1:2; 19:14; 63:6; 77:10-12; 119:11, 17-18, 97-102, 148; Rom. 12:1-2; Philip. 4:8; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 2:1).
Doing the Lectio Divina
How is this done? Simply put as we read, we fill our minds on Christ and His precepts, and commune and communicate with our Lord in prayer. We read the Bible and pray to Christ as Lord-and we can do this simultaneously. We seek to engage His presence in prayer, and study to learn His instruction and practice our faith in concert. In so doing, we allow the peace of Christ to rule our hearts and minds and that translates into our actions. It is all about our spiritual growth impacting us so it impacts others positively and in love.
Thus, to do this type of Bible Study, you choose a Bible verse, read it several times; ponder it over and over in your mind, then pray. As you read, communicate with the Father, listen to what He says through His Word to you (remember nothing He says will ever contradict what He has already revealed). You will be amazed at how much you will learn, know, and even memorize; then, you will see more real, authentic, spiritual growth in yourself. The Psalms and the Epistles of John are a good place to start with this.
How to Pray in and with the Bible:
· Preparation: To begin practicing the Lectio Divina, pray so you are open to the Spirit and His work in you.
Ø Be attentive, to have an open heart and will open to Him.
o Have a place
o Take the time
o Be willing to learn and grow and touched by Christ so you can be transformed by Him.
Ø Select your passage. You can use whatever passage is at hand such as our Bible Reading charts, or start going through the Psalms.
· Read: Start slowly; read a short passage, a verse or a few, no more than a paragraph.
Ø Then read it again at least four (4) times. Mediate on it, this basically means to ponder, reflect and allow God's Word to be appreciated so you "savor it," and see its riches and flavors flow on to you so you are drawn in.
Ø When something does "grab" you, this may be the work of the Spirit. Stop and reread that verse again and again, paying close attention to and pondering it.
Ø For your study, you can spend more time in your inductive analyses and examination while being sensitive to Christ and communicating with Him in prayer.
· Pray: As you read, be in prayer. Begin, engage, and end the Lectio Divina with prayer.
Ø Your experience of reading in and with the Scriptures is basically one of prayer and reflection in God's Word.
Ø Remember that you are in communication with the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign of the universe who has something to say to you!
· Reflect: Now is the time to become more active with your prayers by pondering on the words you are reading.
Ø The center of your attention is to be directly on Christ. Not feelings, not emptying yourself, not any new age junk or eastern philosophy that is dangerous. Your goal is to pay attention to God and His precepts, not your thoughts.
Ø Focus and reflect on God and His institutions. This will enable us to focus on our trust in and relationship with Him! Also have the view of intercession.
· Receive: This is where you receive not by force, but by relaxing in Christ and His embrace, then seeing what God has for you!
Ø Enjoy your time with Him and allow Him to nourish you.
Ø Your prayer now develops into a two-way exchange; as you listen, you learn and as you learn, you listen.
Ø Taking in what He has for you.
Ø Look to what you need to learn, hear, discover, and apply, how you can grow, and how to adjust your life to improve your relationship with Him and others.
· Respond: This is where you respond to God with your open heart and surrendered will.
Ø Ask, what is God saying to me?
Ø What is in the way of your growth and spiritual development?
Ø What sins are you struggling with?
Ø What is hindering your spiritual growth?
Ø How is the Fruit of the Spirit indwelling and manifesting in and from you?
Ø What about love and joy, your relationships, and opportunities as well as conviction?
· Study: Do the above steps as you study and follow the inductive process with the awareness that what you learned is to be connected with your prayers so it infuses your life to Christ. This means seeing God's viewpoint and principles so you can explore and learn from what is revealed from the Bible-what He is saying to you. If you get stuck, use some of the basic Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study on our sister site, www.intothyword.org):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
Try to start with baby steps-10 minutes a day for a month. Then, in the second month, increase it to 15 minutes, the third month, 20 minutes, and so on. Your goal is to spend at least one hour a day in devotions, Bible reading, and prayer-free from distractions and a wandering mind. If this is too much and your mind wanders, just remember to break the time up throughout the day-one-third in the morning, one-third during the midday, and one-third before bed.
Principle passages on why we should be praying with the Scriptures: Psalm 19:14; 46:10; 62:1; 131:2; Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 6:9, 33; John 15:5-16; Acts 17:26, 27; Romans 8:34; 12:6-8; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:15; 6:18; Philippians 3:8; Colossians 3:16; 1 John 1:3; 3:1; 5:14; Revelation 10:8-11
For more insights into this practice see our expanded article: The Lectio Divina?
© 1980, 1985, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org