As we begin the Lenten season, one of my personal goals is to better develop reflective and contemplative spiritual disciplines. Why are you laughing? Yes, even a squirrel like me can learn to be still. Haha. And if I can, so can you…promise! Honestly, our world, our current culture is such a noisy and busy place. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that there is less and less time to simply be. To just remember who we are and what we are called to be and do as followers of Jesus Christ.
In order to develop any spiritual practice, it helps to actually learn about the practice, lay out a plan and then work the practice into your routine or schedule. Just like we integrate daily physical exercise into our day, we also have to integrate spiritual exercise in. And contemplative practices are both refreshing and enlightening, as they ground us in the truth of who we are and allow us to the opportunity to hear from our God.
One disciplined and straightforward approach that teaches us to be still and listen is an ancient practice called Lectio Divina, which literally means “divine reading.” I thought others would be interested in learning a lithe about this contemplative practice. Below is some basic information and steps to follow when trying out this beautiful soul tending practice.
I pray that you actually try Lectio Divina, that it soothes your soul, and that you are able to rest in God’s presence and hear from God in a way that isn’t usually possibly within the noise and hustle and bustle of daily life. I pray the you can quiet your being and calm your soul, so that you can listen and receive wisdom from the living Christ.
Lectio Divina (click on this link to hear how it is pronounced)
Lectio Divina is possibly one of the earliest forms of prayer. It is an ancient practice of meditating on Scripture, where you LISTEN to what God has to say. This is not a head exercise…we are not seeking to understand the words on the page in our bibles. Rather, this is an exercise for your soul. As best as you can, leave your head out of it! 🙂
Guidelines (taken and modified from James Harnish’s book A Disciple’s Path):
- Say a prayer, believing that God is going to speak to you.
- Select a passage in scripture. I have chosen Matthew 11:28-30 for this exercise. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- Read the passage aloud very, very slowly. Exaggerate the words. When reading, the goal is to learn to listen with our ears and our soul. The first time you read the passage, it will familiarize you with the words.
- Read the passage again aloud (a second time)…but attempt to let the scripture read you instead of you reading it. (What are you feeling, experiencing, sensing? What do you “see?”)
- Again, read the passage very slowly (third reading) until one word or phrase jumps out and grabs you. Then, stop!
- Now, simply the say the word or phrase aloud and begin to reflect on it. Just the word or phrase that grabbed you. Say it, think about it, reflect on it.
- Ask yourself why that word or phrase jumped out. What did it touch in you? How did it make you feel? How does it relate to your life? (It doesn’t have to relate to you personally…just a connection with you or your life.)
- If you like to journal or write things down, now is the time to write how this verse is speaking to you.
- Then, respond to what God is saying to you. Share your thoughts and feelings with God. (You can do this silently, aloud, or by writing it down.)
- Rest in silence with God. If your mind begins to wander, use the phrase or word given to you by the Spirit to center yourself again.
Lectio Divina is just one spiritual practice that helps us remove mental and physical distractions, come into God’s presence, and most importantly listen to God. God is always attempting to speak to us, to guide us and to love us! Learning to listen to God can help all of us continue to grow into God’s full potential for our lives.
I would love to hear about your experience with this spiritual discipline. How did you feel? What did you hear? Was it weird to be still? Where did you go to find silence? Did you learn anything about God or yourself?
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10