McFarland

Wednesday Meditation by Pastor Kelli

Light a candle

Read Luke 4:16-21

Prayer Practice: Lectio Divina

Time and time again, we hear Jesus engaging the scriptures, interpreting them for people, and taking time away to pray.  In this reading from Luke’s Gospel, he is engaging the words from the prophet Isaiah.

During the month of August, Pastor Tim and I are exploring different prayer practices.  Today we’ll be digging into an ancient method of prayer called lectio divina, which means “holy reading.”  It is a four-step process to really dwell with a piece of scripture and reflect upon what God may be saying to you at this time through this particular text.

The four steps of lectio divina:

  • Read: Read the passage slowly. Did a word or phrase stick out to you?  What did you hear?
  • Meditate: Repeat that word or phrase, and reflect on why that might be capturing your attention at this time. Is there a connection between that word and your life?
  • Pray: Use the scripture as a means to pray – talk to God about what you hear, how it connects to your life.
  • Contemplate: A time to rest and relax in God’s love. There’s no need to fill this time with words or movement – just a moment to pause in God’s light.[1][2]

You may be wondering what scripture to use for this time of prayer.  The answer is: any scripture you would like!  You can find daily lectionary readings online or you can use one of the four readings assigned for each Sunday: the First Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel readings.  If you use a daily devotional that centers on a sentence or two of scripture, you could use that for your time of prayer, or you could look in your Bible to see where that fits into a larger story, and read that portion.  Or you could create a theme of your own, like the Psalms or Jesus’ parables.  There’s no one right answer for which scripture to choose.  Lectio divina is all about listening to God, listening for God, and spending time with God in God’s Word.

Also, you may engage this process with only your Bible, your mind, and your spirit.  Or you may choose to journal your responses; slowly gathering a collection of your conversations with God.

There are also ways to modify this process so it can be done in pairs or small groups.  If you’re interested in learning these adjustments, feel free to send me an email or give me a call.

This prayer practice of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating God’s Word has been used by God’s people for generations.  It is a wonderful way to engage scripture, see where it connects to our lives today, and hear what God may be speaking to you at this time and place.

[1] Dan Burke, “Lectio Divina, A Guide: What It Is & How It Helps Prayer Life,” SpiritualDirection.com (website), April 21, 2012, https://spiritualdirection.com/2012/04/21/what-is-lectio-divina-and-will-it-help-my-prayer-life-a-guide-to-lectio-divina.

[2] Becky Eldredge, “Lectio Divina,” loyolapress.com (website), unknown date posted, https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/prayer/personal-prayer-life/different-ways-to-pray/lectio-divina/.

Study Questions

1) Slowly read Matthew 8:23-27. What word or phrase sticks out?

2) Repeat that word or phrase to yourself. Why would that be emerging from the rest of the story?  What connection does it have to your life right now?

3) Talk to God about that word or phrase. Talk to God about the connection between the Word and your current experience.  Listen for what God might be revealing for you.

4) Relax.  Relish this time wrapped in the embrace of God’s love and light.

Prayer

God of life, thank you for the endless ways in which we can connect with you.  Continue to speak a new word to us through the ancient words of your scriptures.  Bless the time we spend drawing nearer to you.  Wrap your grace around all those who are comfortable engaging you in conversation, grant courage to those who are yearning for proximity to you, and comfort those who are tentatively seeking you.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Extinguish the candle