PRAYER OF THE HEART AND LECTIO DIVINA
method of communing with God – which incorporates both verbal and nonverbal prayer – is lectio divina (a Latin term meaning
“divine or sacred reading”). Generally speaking, it begins with reading a scripture
passage, followed by discursively reflecting on the text, moving into prayer (talking to God about what one
has read), and then resting in the presence of God (prayer of the heart). The practice of lectio divina allows the Sacred Word to become alive and active as one relates it
to everyday life. (It is different from exegesis, hermeneutics, or the study of Scripture for theological
Lectio divina can be described in four steps as follows.
Lectio (reading). Read a passage in the Word of God slowly, two or three
times, to become familiar with it. Notice what word(s) or phrase(s) speak(s) to you. Ask yourself: What am I
Meditatio (meditation). Repeat the word(s) or phrase(s) you are attracted
to, allowing them to sink into your heart. Let them flood your whole being. Ponder and reflect on the ideas,
ruminating on them as a cow chews its cud. Notice any feelings, thoughts and questions arising. Ask yourself:
How is this touching me?
Oratio (prayer). Listen for what you sense the Lord is saying to you. Take
this to heart, and ask for the grace to respond. In other words, respond to the work of the divine Spirit and
speak to God from the heart in relation to the idea(s) drawn out. Ask yourself: What new insight(s) am I
being invited to embrace?
Contemplatio (contemplation). Stay quietly with whatever is happening, and
trust this. Now is the time to stop pondering, and allow yourself to be with what is – knowing that the Lord
loves you, and wants what is best for you. Rest in silence and solitude (rather than talking to or thinking
about God). Let go of your own ideas, plans, and reflections, surrendering to the transforming divine mystery
and embracing the unknown with love. Ask yourself: How will I respond?
Later, as you go about your activities, let the scripture-based thoughts mingle with
your actions and experiences during the day.
Through the practice of lectio divina, our intimacy with Jesus will
deepen in our journey to the Father. And, our life will gradually change as we are “transformed by the
renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2).
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