By Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the teaching in triads (5 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
- Did you complete last week’s practice? If not, how can we help you commit to seeing it through?
- What did you think about the idea of the Bible as “meditation literature”?
Read this overview
We get frustrated with the Bible when we approach it as an encyclopedia—an entirely literal, linear one-size-fits-all manual for life in the modern world. But the Bible wasn’t designed as a convenient reference manual or as a textbook. The Bible describes itself as a library designed for a lifetime of ongoing meditation. For this, the way of Jesus proposes the ancient spiritual discipline of Lectio Divina.
Lectio divina is not a new method of Bible Study. Whereas study of the Bible sets its focus on learning, lectio divina is an ancient time-tested method of meeting God in the Scriptures. In doing so, the disciple allows the Scriptures (in cooperation with the Spirit) to lead the reader into further intimacy with God as they move slowly, carefully, and repeatedly through the text. The practice consists of five distinct movements:
1) Preparing to meet with God
2) Reading (lectio)
3) Reflection (meditatio)
4) Response (oratio)
5) Rest (contemplatio)
Talk about the coming week’s practice as a Community (10-30 minutes)
Having established a time and place that are both quiet and free from distraction, set aside 3-5 times this week to practice lectio divina.
Any passage of Scripture can be utilized for the practice of lectio divine. Here are a few suggestions with which to start:
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 100
- John 15v1-17
- Romans 12
After selecting one passage, read and move slowly through each of the five movements of spiritual reading.
- Prepare to meet with God: Turn your phone off and leave it another room. Situate yourself comfortably in a quiet, solitary place. Calm your body and quiet your mind before God as you work to prepare your heart to receive what God has spoken through the text, and to respond accordingly. Finally, invite the Holy Spirit to guide your thinking and feeling as you read.
- Read (lectio): Read the passage slowly and carefully. Take your time. As you move through the text, pay close attention to what words and ideas draw your attention in unique ways. When your focus is drawn to a particular word or thought, pause momentarily to reflect on them.
- Reflect (mediatio): Upon completing the passage, return to the beginning and read again. On your second journey through the text, allow the text to connect with you personally. Which words or phrases assume a particular resonance in your heart, your season of life, your person in this moment. Ask, “What do I need to know, or be, or do in light of the text? What does this mean for my life today?”
- Respond (oratio): Talk to God about your experience. If you’re confused, say that. Moved? Express gratitude to God. Upset? Tell him about it. Compelled to worship? Worship. If the text has brought something else to mind, talk to God about that.
- Rest (contemplatio): Pause to sit in God’s presence before fleeing from the moment. You might express wonder, awe, gratitude, or praise through words, or you might allow yourself to feel and experience these things quietly before God.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- When you read the Scriptures, do you feel as though you actually meet with and connect with God? Why or why not?
- What makes lectio divina different than a “bible study” or a teaching?
- Which of the steps in Lectio Divina feel the most foreign to your current Practice of Scripture reading? Which do you feel the most excited about?