Praying Lectio Divina

By Christian Bergmann

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to pray during Eucharistic Adoration, here is something I have found to be profoundly helpful for me, both during and outside of Adoration. It is an ancient way of praying with the Scriptures known as Lectio Divina (or, Holy Reading). It is a popular method amongst the Jesuits, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola recommended this as a frequent method of prayer. The point of it is to help you read the Scriptures in such a way that is leads you into loving communication with God. This is what the Scriptures are supposed to do. They are not dead pages. They are alive.

For me, Lectio Divina has been helpful because I’m such a big reader. Having words to read in front of me is really important. It focuses me. But even if you’re not a big reader, Lectio Divina only involves reading short passages of Scripture at a time. It has four basic steps that are very easy to follow.

1. Read the Text

Start off by patiently reading through the passage of Scripture. Read it carefully and slowly. Maybe revisit one of your favourite passages of Scripture, or maybe go for one you’re not so familiar with. My suggestion is start with the Gospels. They are brimming with stories and parables that will keep you imaginatively engaged for a long time. If anything in the text jumps out at you, Saint Ignatius would say to “savour” it, or “relish” it. God speaks to us through his Word. If anything does jump out at you for any reason, don’t let it slip away.

2. Meditate

Ask yourself this question: What does this passage of Scripture say to me? God doesn’t want a relationship with nobody. He wants a relationship with somebody. With individuals. With persons. You are that person. I am that person. As such, God speaks to us personally, individually, intimately. Try and listen to see what God is saying to you through the text.

3. Pray

Next, let this move you into a space of prayer. What are you thinking about the text? What are you feeling? It’s important not to leave your emotions behind in prayer, but to bring them into loving conversation with God. He wants our honesty. He wants us to be honest about how we are feeling. What do you want to say to God? Based upon the Scriptures you’ve just read, based upon how you’re feeling, about what you’re thinking right now. What do you want to say to God? Be honest. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. But, just pray.

4. Act

Ultimately, this method of prayer is about leading us to action. It is important that we not simply be hearers of the Word of God, but doers. Ask God how it is you can put whatever it is you have learned into action. Develop a strategy. Becoming a saint doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by the gift of God’s grace, in cooperation with our freedom, our action.

This method is short and simple, but it has been used by saints and mystics up and down the centuries. If you want to revitalise your prayer life and your reading of Scripture, give it a go. You might be surprised how it turns out. The Holy Spirit speaks in surprising ways.