I was sitting in my apartment when my phone rang. I looked down and my heart started to flutter when I saw Ryan’s name flash across the screen. We were in the very early stages of dating and it was common for us to go several days without speaking to one another. His phone call completely took me by surprise.
When I answered, he didn’t waste any time. Right after I picked up the phone he blurted, “I need to pray, and I’ve never done it before. I need you to teach me how.”
I responded, “Uh… ok. Can you meet me at my apartment in 45 minutes?”
He said that he’d be on his way.
I had so many questions.
Why did he call ME? We barely knew each other.
How was I going to teach a grown man how to pray?
Did I even know how to explain prayer? It’s so personal!
When Ryan showed up, I handed him a Bible and shared this quote from St. Ambrose with him. “We speak to God when we pray; We listen to Him when we read the Scriptures.”
I briefly explained the steps of Lectio Divina which is a practice that is near and dear to my heart and we took a walk to the Adoration chapel in my neighborhood.
I watched him as he cracked the Bible open, fervently took notes, flipped to another page, and took more notes. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would reveal himself to Ryan in a special way. When we stepped out of the chapel, Ryan stopped me and said, “What WAS that?”
I was confused and asked, “What do you mean?”
He touched his chest and said, “My heart is racing and feels like it is going to beat out of my chest.”
I chuckled and said, “It looks like the Holy Spirit showed up.”
That first encounter with the Holy Spirit changed Ryan’s life. He had no idea that there was a God behind the scenes patiently waiting for him to come. Lectio Divina became a regular part of our time spent together and now that we are married it is a practice we’ve passed on to our children.
What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina is Latin for “Divine Reading.” It’s simply a way to read Scripture slowly in an open-ended way. Instead of sitting down and reading the Bible as a textbook with the intent of gleaning information, Lectio Divina is a way of selecting a small passage where a word or phrase draws our attention to the Holy Spirit and how He is communicating with us.
When we follow the steps of Lectio Divina we are not using a study guide or Biblical commentary to lead us. We linger over a word or phrase instead of covering a large amount of content in a short amount of time and this helps us to fine tune our ears to the Holy Spirit. It’s a deeply personal and fruitful practice.
1. Prayer to the Holy Spirit
We begin our prayer time with a short prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for the grace to be receptive to the Word of God.
We like to read each passage twice. Once to gain an understanding of what the text is trying to say and a second time to search for personal meaning. We read the passages slowly, savoring each word and paying attention to words or phrases that jump out at us.
We sit with the passage and let it sink in. We ask ourselves why the Holy Spirit wrote this for us through the pen of the author. How do these words or phrases apply to our lives right now? Do they have significance for specific relationships or habits? How is the Holy Spirit inspiring or encouraging us through this passage?
We respond to God about our observations. We tell Him what comforts us and what challenges us about the words meant for us. We verbalize what we think God is trying to say to us through the Scripture and we ask Him to confirm or deny those thoughts. We ask for His strength to help us with our convictions and we praise Him for His love and steadfastness. We decide if there is an action step to take that day after our prayer time is over.
5. Rest in God’s Presence
We stop talking. We use this time of contemplation to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us. We are often overwhelmed by the patience, mercy, and compassion we feel. There is often a temptation to rush this step because we want to jump right into action after figuring out what we are called to do. But resting in God’s love during this time of contemplation is what gives us the strength to face our battles. We sit and allow ourselves to be loved and then we thank God for speaking to us in such an intimate way.
Although Lectio Divina sounds like a formal process, it’s what the heart naturally does when we encounter Christ on the pages of our Bibles.
We like to select our passages from the Daily Mass Readings
because they are always relevant, but it is also powerful to select a Psalm, a random Gospel passage, or the readings in this book
Which Scripture passage has been speaking to your heart lately?
Note: This blog post first appeared on Melaine’s blog, lemongrassandsage.com. Follow more of her stories there.
Melaine Myklebust is a wife and a mother to four small children. She is a parishioner at Mary of the Immaculate Conception parish in Rockville. Melaine has a passion for women’s ministry and leads a Scripture study for women at her parish and she facilitates the Central MN Catholic Moms Group. Melaine loves reading, cooking, watercolor painting, and she has a weakness for temperament and personality type quizzes.