You read God’s Word. Are you giving God’s Word time to read you? Here’s an ancient and time-tested practice of encountering God’s Word called, “lectio devina” (Latin for “divine reading”). Lectio is more than a Bible study method or a way of extracting needed information about God. Lectio involves an encounter with God through the reading of His Word.
Lectio is not magical nor some kind of special formula. It is simply one of the many meaningful ways that faithful followers of Jesus have encountered God for centuries.
The following is a simple structure of lectio devina. It serves as a “starter kit” to much greater encounters and more meaningful exchanges with God as you meet Him in His Word:
Choose a text of the Scriptures that you wish to encounter. It can be long, short, or something in between. Let God determine the amount of text He wants to cover with you. It’s fine to plan, just let God set the pace and lead the way.
Find a comfortable place to focus your whole attention on God. Removing physical hindrances, setting aside mental distractions, slowing down breathing, and practicing silence are just a few ways to reposition yourself to encounter God. Once settled, begin to read.
Turn to the text and read it slowly. Resist the urge to jump ahead with thoughts or conclusions. Allow God’s Word to gently wash over you. Let it soak into the deeper places of your heart and mind. Trust that God wants to meet you in this exchange. Listen for God to let you know, if even in the quietest way, “I am here with you.” Let silence do its work. Trust that as you give Him room, God will speak as needed.
When you have sat with God and the passage a bit, deliberately re-read the passage. Read it again as if for the first time. If God leads you, read it a third time. When you sense God wants you to move on, begin the work of listening.
Most find listening difficult. We find talking much more desirable than listening. Amazingly, even when our mouths are closed, we tend to speak inside our heads. Resist doing the talking. Ask God to help you listen to what He has to say. Trust that as a word or phrase seems to lift from the pages, God is most likely doing the talking. Whatever struggles, memories, visions, or ideas take rise, allow God to invite you into a deeper conversation with Him. Listen first, but also be willing to speak.
You may speak out loud, through thoughts and ideas in your head, or perhaps through some other meaningful form of communication like art, song, or dance. God knows how He made you to express yourself in the most meaningful way. Trust that God wants to meet you in such ways. Offer God whatever words, phrases, thoughts, or promptings have come about as you have read and listened. Speak and listen. Listen some more, then speak. Always give God the last word in your conversation.
Rest in God’s presence. The goal of your encounter is not to grab information from God and go. The goal is to be with God—to know Him, love Him, and enjoy Him. If God speaks, listen. If He is silent, sit quietly with Him in love. If He leads you back to His Word, go there. Learn to be at ease with God in this. Relax in His presence until you sense He says it’s time to move on.
Finally, leave the results of your encounter with God. The success of your time is not based on quantitative results or future actions steps. Your goal and success will always be: I have been with Jesus, and He has been with me.
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