Monday, November 29, 2010

Soaking in Scripture: Spiritual Formation through Lectio Divina, part 5

The goal of lectio divina is that we would become saturated with God’s Word. We want our minds, our attitudes and our actions to be steeped in Scripture. As we do so, our lives will be transformed from the inside out.

The Whole Person

While lectio divina is not the only way to spend time in the Bible, it is a great way to integrate Scripture with our lives. If you are acquainted with the categories of the Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory, you will recognize how lectio divina utilizes four different faculties. Reading/hearing Scripture engages our sensory (S) powers of seeing and hearing. Meditation involves our thinking (T). Prayer opens our feelings (F). Contemplation engages our intuitive side (N).

For each person, one or two of these activities comes easily, and one or two is usually difficult. Some of us are good at thinking but not so comfortable with our intuition. Lectio divina invites us to keep these in balance. We enjoy the rhythms that come naturally, and we work at the ones that come harder. By doing so, we keep our heart and our heads together, engaging both in our walk with the Lord.

Preparation: Silencio
In the daily practice of lectio divina, it is helpful to prepare ourselves to center on God’s Word. Often we need to quiet our minds and turn off the incessant “to do” list. We need to still our souls and intentionally create some inner silence if we want to hear God’s still, small voice speaking to us.

In his book, Invitation to a Journey, Robert Mulholland refers to this preparatory step as silencio (pp. 112-113). As well as quieting our noisy thoughts, silencio entails cultivating an attitude of submission. I am not in control of the passage; rather, I am going to let God’s Word control me. Therefore I approach his Word in humility and submissiveness, open to hear what he wants to say to me and ready to obey, no matter the cost.

The words “silent” and “listen” have the same six letters in them. The reality is that they are two sides of the same coin. On the one side, I become silent. On the other side, I am then ready to listen.

Finally, after our time in lectio divina, we need to live out—to flesh out—what God has spoken to us. Mulholland aptly calls this step of application Incarnatio. Here we incarnate—put into flesh--what the Lord has directed us through his Word. “The whole focus of spiritual reading is to encounter God in ways that enable God to transform our being and doing in the world,” affirms Mulholland (p. 115).

Fleshing out our Bible reading can mean many different things. It may entail doing something that we have failed to do, or it may mean that we stop an action that is hurtful. Incarnatio might entail a change of attitude or nurturing very different thoughts in our heads. If for years we have felt neglected by God, Incarnatio might entail nurturing thoughts of God’s loving embrace and never-failing presence. Such application is the fruit borne from soaking in God’s Word.

Just Do It
My prayer is that you would be spending time in God’s Word. If you are not really soaking in Scripture—or if your Bible reading seems to be disconnected from your life as a whole—I’d encourage you to try the rhythms of lectio divina so that your life, your thoughts, your attitudes and your actions can be saturated in God’s Word.

I pray that you would soak in God’s Word and allow it to permeate your heart and mind throughout the day. May you treasure your time with the Lord and be renewed by his presence as you are “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Further Reading
Here are some good books on lectio divina. There are many more works available on the subject, but these are a good place to begin.

-Casey, Michael. Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina. Liguori, MO: Ligouri/Triumph, 2001.
-Davis, Ellen F. and Richard B. Hays, eds. The Art of Reading Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003.
-Dyck, Elmer, ed. The Act of Bible Reading: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
-Hall, Thelma. Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1988.
-Mulholland, M. Robert. Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation. Revised Edition. Nashville: The Upper Room, 2000.
-Pennington, M. Basil. Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures. New York: Crossroad, 1998.
-Resseguie, James L. Spiritual Landscape: Images of the Spiritual Life in the Gospel of Luke. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004.

© 2010 Glenn E. Myers

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soaking in Scripture: Spiritual Formation through Lectio Divina, part 4

After we read Scripture, meditate on it and respond in prayer, the fourth rhythm of lectio divina is contemplatio. Here we contemplate—focus on—God with us. Rather than rushing directly into the day’s activities, we linger for awhile in his presence. We might remain seated where we are, enjoying God’s company, or we might take a walk with the Lord outdoors.

4. Savoring God’s Presence
Contemplatio is attending to God’s presence. Here we behold the beauty of the Lord. We bask in the brilliance of his light. Like taking in a spectacular view from the top of a mountain, we savor a bit of God’s splendor.

During this fourth rhythm of lectio divina, we are not analyzing anything or necessarily saying anything; rather, we fix our gaze on the Lord. David describes such attentiveness to the Lord in Psalm 27:4,

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I my dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple. (NASB)

David wants to “behold” or “gaze upon” (NIV) the Lord. In the same way, we can dedicate the last part of lectio divina to center on God’s presence. The Latin translation of “behold” or “gaze upon” is the verb contemplatio, hence the name of this fourth rhythm.

Resting and Relationship
In contemplatio, we delight in God’s divine presence. Like holding the hand of someone we love, we simply appreciate his nearness. Like two lovers sitting on a swing together, we relish God’s friendship. We experience Jesus’ closeness to us—we absorb his love. As we do so, we come to know how deeply we are cherished.

Contemplatio is not the time for mulling things over in our minds; rather, it is an opportunity to seek God’s face. David continues in Psalm 27:8,

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” (NASB)

Our culture is one of activity and analysis. We like to “do” something to make ourselves useful. Likewise, we like to analyze and critique. Contemplatio is about neither doing nor critiquing. Instead, it is about relationship and resting. That makes this final rhythm of lectio divina more difficult to grasp—and much more difficult to do—for most modern Christians.

During this time we are not trying to be productive. Rather, like a relaxed Sunday afternoon with close family and friends, we want to waste time, as it were, with God. Of course, intimate time with God is anything but a “waste.” Yet, that is often how it feels to us because in the back of our minds we want to get on with our “to do” list for the day.

Therefore, learning contemplatio takes commitment and practice for most of us. We need to determine that we will not cut our time with God short in order to move on to the “important things” of the day. Instead we remind ourselves that our close connection with the Lord is by far the most significant event of the day, and we are not going to skimp on it.

Should Christians Practice Contemplation?

Some believers question whether or not contemplation is legitimate for Christians to practice. Having been told that it is “emptying one’s mind”—a form of transcendental meditation—they avoid it.

While they raise a legitimate concern, this objection comes from a misunderstanding of Christian contemplation. Far from emptying our minds, contemplatio engages our hearts and minds—but not in an analytical way.

In fact, we all participate in contemplation at various times: viewing a sunset, enjoying a beautiful painting or piece of music, gazing into the eyes of someone we love. Contemplation engages our faculties in an aesthetic/relational way. In none of these situations have we emptied our minds to enter some state of nirvana. If we were blanking out our minds, we would miss the sunset or painting or person across from us. Instead of analyzing, however, we are soaking it all in at once, as it were.

In the same way, during contemplatio we actively attend to God’s presence. We soak in his love and glory all at once rather than analyzing any particular attribute of the divine. We enjoy his presence. Such adoration and enjoyment is what David calls us to in Psalm 27 as he describes his longing to gaze up/behold/contemplate the Lord.

Finally, in this fourth rhythm of lectio divina we take time to adore the Lord for his splendor and majesty. We stand in awe of the Almighty. Like soaking in a magnificent sunset, we still ourselves in silent adoration of our God. We bask in his glory.

Many of us have experienced contemplatio from time to time at the end of Sunday worship. For example, after singing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” the congregation remains for a few moments in silence. This is not a dead silence by any means—to the contrary, it is pregnant with the Lord’s manifest presence. We touch God’s grandeur and awesome holiness.

Such times of silent awe are priceless. Our theological belief in God’s holiness is changed into a live encounter with that holiness. The more we experience God’s righteousness and utter divinity, the more we will be transformed by it. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory” (TNIV).

Adoration in God’s presence does not need to be limited to singing our favorite hymns or worship choruses. It can become part of our regular devotion to the Lord as we take time for contemplatio. We must remember, though, that we are not seeking an emotional high or spiritual experience. Rather, we are attending to God’s presence and adoring him—simply because he is worthy of our attention and worship! Experiences, per se, will come and go. Emotions ride up and down. Our focus, however, remains fixed on the Lord. That is what contemplatio is all about.

Try it this week. After your Scripture reading, meditation and prayer, “hang around” for awhile in God’s presence. You may be able to focus for only a few minutes at first—that is okay. A short time may be all that you are ready to encounter.

Like looking into the eyes of someone you love, this interaction can be deeply intimate and very intense. As a result, you may not always be able to maintain your focus for very long. Your mind might begin to wander. That is normal. Rather than become discouraged or upset with yourself, gently gather your attention back on the Lord. You might do so by reviewing your Scripture passage, or you might refocus by softly speaking the name “Jesus” or “Abba,” centering your thoughts back on the One you love.

Also, you may not be able to practice this fourth rhythm of lectio divina every day. Take time for contemplatio as you are able. The more you experience it and enjoy it, the more you will look forward to those uninterrupted moments alone with God!

© 2010 Glenn E. Myers

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soaking in Scripture: Spiritual Formation through Lectio Divina, part 3

Meditation on Scripture leads naturally into the third rhythm of lectio divina: “oratio”--prayer.

3. Praying Scripture
As our hearts and minds become saturated with God’s Word we spontaneously begin to pray that passage back to our heavenly Father. “Lord, give me the tenacity of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.” “Develop that kind of daring faith in me.” “Show me what obstacles I need to press through in order to get closer to Jesus.” “Please heal the places where I am bleeding inside.”

In prayer our hearts become fully engaged in God’s Word. Often when we simply read a portion of Scripture, we remain rather detached. But as we meditate on it—and particularly as we pray it back to the Lord—our hearts engage in the process.

The prayer portion of lectio divina should remain focused on the verses at hand. This is not the time for going through our prayer list or interceding for others. While petition and intercession are valuable forms of prayer, they can be done at a separate time. Instead, during the time of lectio divina, our prayer centers on what God is speaking to us through his Word and what he wants to do in our lives. We submit ourselves to the Creator of the universe and give him our undivided attention.

Too often when we read the Bible we know the Lord is addressing things in our lives, but we run off before we have taken God’s message to heart. However, when we make the effort to meditate on what God is saying and then take time to pray about it, God’s Word sticks in our minds, sinks into our hearts, and bears fruit in our attitudes and actions.

By praying God’s Word back to him, we pull together 1) our Bible reading, 2) our prayer and 3) our daily existence. So often we keep these three facets of life quite compartmentalized from each other. Lectio divina is a gentle structure that integrates all aspects of our lives. It is holistic.

Various Prayer Responses

When I honestly open myself to God through his Word, I am time and again convicted of sin in my life—ways I have hurt others, bad attitudes I have harbored, hurtful words I have said, good words and actions I have failed to do. I have trespassed against God in “thought, word and deed; by what I have done and what I have left undone.” When Scripture shines light on a hidden sin in my life, I need to respond with a prayer of confession. In addition, I’ll ask the Lord to fully reveal my fallen actions or attitudes. Then I pray that he would pull it out of my life by the roots—no matter how painful that process might be or how long it may take.

Other mornings, Scripture causes me to see God’s blessings in my life as never before. My prayer time then focuses on expressing thanks. It might turn into a time of worship and praise for God’s goodness to me and faithfulness in my life.

At other times God’s Word sheds new light on his love for me and I begin to realize how cherished I am. As well as thanking the Lord for his lovingkindness, my prayer might flow right into a time of basking in God’s goodness and love for me, which is contemplation, the fourth step of lectio divina.

There is a logical progression through the rhythms of lectio divina. We begin by reading a passage of Scripture several times to get it into our minds. Then we meditate on it, reflecting on it from different angles. This naturally leads into praying the passage back to the Lord.

In day-to-day practice, however, we may not always proceed from one step to the next in such a linear fashion. As we meditate on the passage, we often go back to reread it in order to clarify what it says. After we have prayed in response, we might go back to meditation to see how God’s Word further applies to us. Then we return to prayer, asking the Lord to work that into our lives.

Thus we glide back and forth among the various rhythms of lectio divina. That is good because lectio divina is not a formula or method; rather it is a willingness to be teachable and an attitude of receptivity. It is an integrative approach to soaking in God’s Word and God’s presence. Lectio divina is a mindset of allowing God’s Word to address whatever he desires in our lives and to shape us as he pleases. So long as we are becoming steeped in Scripture, and transformed by it, our time is a success!

In my own practice of soaking in God’s Word, these three steps of reading, meditation and prayer often take place with the aid of pen and journal. As part of my lectio/reading, I’ll write out the verse or verses that I’m focusing on. Like reading aloud, the process of writing slows me down and helps me to see each word in my passage. Writing out the verses is also helpful if I’m going to memorize a portion of Scripture. Next, I record some reflections on the passage. Sometimes this is in paragraph form; other times it is simply bullet points. Such meditation on God’s Word often flows seamlessly into prayer. Finally, I often write out my prayer response to the Lord. Here I commit my situation to him, ask for help, and surrender my will to his plan.

Personal Practice
As you read and meditate on God’s Word this week, try praying the Scripture back to God. Some might realize that they have been doing this all along. Others will find this a bit awkward—or a bit intimidating. As you make prayer a natural part of your time in God’s Word, however, it will become more and more spontaneous for you.

Because lectio divina takes longer than many Christians are used to spending in their daily devotions, you may find that you need to set more time aside for the Lord. On a practical level, you may decide to do lectio divina one or two days each week and on the other days keep the Bible reading plan that you are already on. Find what works for you. The goal is not fitting our lives into a new method; rather, it is soaking in Scripture so that our heads, hearts and hands become saturated with God’s Word.

© 2010 Glenn E. Myers

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soaking in Scripture: Spiritual Formation through Lectio Divina, part 2

Lectio divina is a fourfold rhythm of soaking in God’s Word that weaves together 1) our Scripture reading,2) our meditation on Scripture, 3) our prayer and 4) our quiet enjoyment of the Lord’s presence.

Over the past number of years as I have taught on lectio divina in various classes, retreats and seminars, many believers have expressed that they already practice various steps of lectio divina in their devotional time. In one sense none of this is new, which is good—it is simply part of our common practice as Christians, spending time in God’s Word and prayer. However, they also tell me that seeing the whole picture of lectio divina is really helpful to them. It gives words to what they have been doing; it encourages them to intentionally soak in God’s Word and his presence; and it helps them to see how the various rhythms fit together.

2. Scripture Meditation
After we have read a passage several times and put down our Bible, our time in God’s Word is not finished. Rather, it is just getting started! The second rhythm of Lectio divina is “meditatio”—meditation on the Scripture we have read. Here we ponder the passage and approach it from many different angles. We reflect on key words in the passage. We picture the events in our mind or even place ourselves in that setting. In short, we steep ourselves in God’s Word and allow it to saturate our minds, our hearts and our lives.

The Hebrew word for meditate relates to animals chewing the cud. After a cow eats grass and swallows it, it goes into the first stomach to begin digestion. Later the grass comes back up for the cow to chew the cud some more before it goes into the second stomach. So goes the digestion process throughout the day until the grass reaches the fourth stomach for final integration into the cow’s system. When we meditate on God’s Word throughout the day we do the same thing. We read it in the morning, chewing on it for awhile. Later that morning it comes to mind and we gnaw on it some more. Again in the afternoon, we reflect upon the passage and review it in our minds. As we continue to meditate on the Scripture throughout the day, it works its way into our whole being.

In meditation we also ponder how the passage applies to our lives. Asking questions such as, “How does this relate to me personally?” and “What do I need to change?” we seek to apply what we are learning. As the Lord commands in Joshua 1:8, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”

Placing Ourselves in the Passage
A fruitful way of meditating on Scripture is to imagine it in our minds. Take for example the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years who comes to Jesus to be healed in Luke 8:43-48. To bring this account alive, we can picture the multitude of people pressing one another in an attempt to get close to Jesus. We smell the crowd. Then we see the woman who had bled for twelve years attempt to work her way closer to Jesus. Is she slipping in between others? Is she elbowing people to get past them? Those who recognize her pull back in surprise because she is unclean and not supposed to be out in public—they do not want to become contaminated! We hear their condescending comments but see her continue on, ignoring the humiliation. Finally she sees Jesus, and we watch as she rivets her attention on the hem of his robe. With one final thrust of her hand her finger tips touch it. Jesus reels around as power flows out of him and she is healed!

Meditation continues by asking questions that apply the passage to our own lives. How can I press closer to Jesus? What obstacles must I press past in order to reach him? What is it that I need healing for in my life? Do I want that healing as badly as this woman? Am I willing to ignore opposition and words of shame hurled at me in order to reach the Lord?

Another way to flesh out this passage is putting yourself right into the scene. Picture yourself as that woman. Feel her desperation! Feel her uncompromising drive! If you do so, you will learn this passage as you never have before—you will live our Scripture in ways you never thought possible.

A similar way of personalizing a passage of Scripture is by putting our name in. For the past three years, a verse I have meditated on again and again is Isaiah 43:1, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” (NASB). In this passage, God is addressing his covenant people; therefore, as part of God’s people today, it applies directly to me. So when I review this passage, I place my name right in the verse: “I have called you by name, Glenn; you are Mine!” Every time I hear my name there it comes alive to me —even after doing so dozens of times over the past several years.

Listening to the Holy Spirit
We should pay particular attention to portions of Scripture that catch our attention. Robert Mulholland suggests that after you have finished your Bible reading, you should “return to those places where you experienced harmony or dissonance. . . . What is God saying to you in that experience of harmony? . . . Is the Word addressing you at some unrealized point of your life where you are hungering and thirsting for wholeness and life? . . . Is the Word calling to some deep emptiness that longs to be filled?”

Likewise we need to focus on the phrases that disturb us. The Holy Spirit gets our attention by making us feel uncomfortable when we hear his Word. Mulholland continues, “What is God saying to you in the experience of dissonance? Does the dissonance reveal something in your being or doing that is in rebellion against God? . . . Is God addressing some habit, some attitude, some deeply ingrained perspective that is inconsistent with God’s purposes for your wholeness? Is the Word probing some relationship that is not healthy?” [1]

The process of meditation becomes turbocharged when we make the effort to memorize a passage of Scripture where God is really speaking to us. The practice of memorizing invites us to reflect on the verses on a whole new level. It causes us to recognize what specific words are used and see what comes first, what comes after that and how they are connected. We pick up on repetition or cadence in the passage.

In addition, memorizing Scripture enables us to take the passage with us all day long. We review it again and again, reminding ourselves of what the Lord is speaking to us. In this way, God’s thoughts toward us wash over our heart and mind all day long and often into the night as we fall asleep.

One colleague of mine spent one and a half years soaking in John chapter 1. He would read a verse and steep his thoughts in that one verse for his devotional time. Then he would write the verse out on a card and put it in his pocket to review throughout the day. He and his wife memorized John 1 together and would quiz each other. In this way he committed the whole chapter to memory and reviewed it constantly.

Often I memorize passages that stand out to me during my Bible reading. I don’t do this so that I can be good a Bible quizzer; rather I memorize verses where God is speaking to me so that I can take with me throughout the day. Far more than I need food and water each day, I need God’s Word. It encourages me when I’m down and discouraged; it instructs me how I should walk; it corrects me where I am in sin; it renews my mind; and it constantly pours God’s love and acceptance and grace into every part of my life.

When I’ve memorized a meaningful passage, I find myself thinking about again and again during the day. As I lie down to sleep at night, the words come echoing back through my memory. I find myself feeding on the passage continually. As Joshua 1:8 commands, I begin to “meditate on it day and night.”

Putting it into Practice
Try it this week! After you have read a passage several times, stay sitting in a chair and meditate on the passage. Picture it in your mind. Place yourself into the story. Let God’s Word address you personally. Or, you may want to take a walk while you reflect on the passage. Let your mind approach the verses from different angles. Ask questions of the passage. Let it become alive to you.

Then, take one or more verses with you throughout the day. Try memorizing a key verse and review it throughout the week. As you do so, I pray that God’s Word would saturate your thoughts, your attitudes, your actions and the whole of your life. I pray that his Living Word spoken to you would indeed become the very air that you breathe!

[1] M. Robert Mulholland, Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation. Revised Edition (Nashville: The Upper Room, 2000) pp. 151-52.

© 2010 Glenn E. Myers

Monday, November 1, 2010

Soaking in Scripture: Spiritual Formation through Lectio Divina, part 1

Central to Christian spiritual formation is God’s Word. As we give Scripture our undivided attention, we invite the Living Word to saturate our minds and hearts. We allow Scripture to change us from the inside out.

God’s Word is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12).

The light of God’s Word exposes the dark places in our lives—secret sins, toxic attitudes, hidden addictions, unattended wounds, and deep shame. The revealing power of God’s Word brings conviction where we are not right with God and others. The remedial power of God’s Word heals the broken places of our hearts and lives. Ultimately God’s Word transforms us.

While various “spiritualities” circulate in today’s pluralistic society, genuine Christian spiritual formation emerges from Scripture. We would know nothing of God except that he has revealed himself. Rather than creating a god of its own choosing, Christian devotion is the response to God’s self-revelation in the Bible. We cling to Scripture because it is God’s heartbeat expressed to us.

In today’s information revolution, words convey a lot of mere information. We become accustomed to skimming vast amounts of data as we look things up online. Unfortunately, we often use the same approach when we come to Scripture. We look for new information. If we don’t find anything new, we quickly become bored and move on to something else. Therefore, for those who have read the Bible for years, it is easy to adopt the attitude of “been there, done that.” Because we know some of the basic information in the Bible, we assume that we “have it down,” and our minds move elsewhere, seeking new stimulus and novel information.

Instead we need to approach God’s Word relationally. Scripture is personal communication from the all-loving Father to us. It is much more akin to a hand-written letter to us than a Google search on a given topic.

Words are the primary means by which we connect, person-to-person. They express our thoughts to the other person and ultimately communicate our love for them. Although we connect with others by touch, eye-to-eye contact, and other means, words are probably the greatest way that we share our hearts with others. This is especially true in our relationship with the Lord. Because we cannot see him or touch him physically, it is through his Words to us and our words to him that we cultivate our relationship.

God’s Word is his self-expression to us. Love is essentially self-giving and self-revealing. Because God is love, he pours out through his Word. That Word is the Logos—the Son, the second Person of the Trinity—who fully expresses who God is. That Word is also the Scripture, comprised of various messages of love, acceptance, warning, instruction and discipline that express his thoughts toward us.

Lectio Divina
One substantive way of soaking in God’s Word and savoring his presence is known as lectio divina. The standard method of spending time in Scripture for nearly fifteen hundred years of Christianity, lectio divina is Latin for “sacred reading,” “spiritual reading” or “devotional reading.” It is an approach to our “quiet time” that makes space for us to saturate ourselves in God’s Word.

Lectio divina is an approach to God’s Word that opens our minds for him to speak to us and opens our hearts to experience intimate relationship with him. It entails a fourfold rhythm for our devotion: 1) reading Scripture, 2) meditating on that passage, 3) praying it back to the Lord, and then 4) simply enjoying God’s presence.

1. Reading & Hearing Scripture
The first rhythm is reading God’s Word. Here we take a passage and read it through several times. When we repeat the passage more than once we notice small but important items that we missed the first time through.

Reading it out loud is best because it slows us down and highlights words that we would otherwise skip over. Speaking God’s Word aloud allows us to hear God’s message with our ears, as well as see it on the page. It enables us to taste the words with our mouth, as it were, when we pronounce each syllable. As Psalm 19 states, his words are “sweeter than honey” to those who are willing to enjoy them!

Many mornings, I also write out the passage in my journal. The process of writing forces me to notice each word. It gives me space to see how various ideas are connected to each other in the sentence or paragraph or that I’m centering on for the day. The motion of writing engages me in active learning, plus it helps me remember the passage.

In order to give adequate attention to our day’s portion of Scripture, it is often best to choose a shorter section. Lectio divina takes a brief passage of Scripture—usually one to a dozen verses—and focuses our attention on this passage. Instead of trying to keep up with a Bible reading plan, we concentrate on a few verses of God’s Word and soak in them. Rather than racing through a quick chapter of the Bible before rushing out the door, as so many contemporary Christians are wont to do, lectio divina helps us to decelerate and savor Scripture—not trying to inhale it as we would fast food at the drive through.

The aim of the Christian life is not to “get through the Bible” in a given amount to time. Rather, our goal is to allow God’s Word to “get through us” thoroughly and repeatedly so that we are transformed into the image of Christ.

The rhythms of lectio divina welcome us to step off the merry-go-round of our fast-paced lives in order to slow down and enjoy some unhurried moments with the Lord. In my coming blogs I will explore some dynamics of meditating on Scripture, praying the passage, and then relishing God’s profound presence. These rhythms invite us to soak in Scripture and appreciate it for what it is—God’s very Word spoken to us!

If your current method of Bible reading is bearing fruit in your life, stick with it. But, if your current method is not bearing fruit—or if you are not really spending time in God’s Word—I’d encourage you to try something different. Several days this week take a few verses and try reading them aloud several times through. Then just savor God’s thoughts to you throughout the day.

© 2010 Glenn E. Myers