With thanks to Fr. Luke Dysinger
How to do Individual Lectio
Reading. Prayerfully and slowly read the Bible until a word, phrase or verse speaks strongly to you. Silently repeat the word or phrase that attracts you. Don’t try to do Biblical interpretation: just quietly and peacefully repeat the passage to yourself.
Meditation. Once you have gently memorized your word or phrase, ask “How does this word touch me? How does it touch what is going on in my life?” You can also enter imaging prayer (prayerful imagination) to see where the word takes you.
Prayer. As answers or images begin to come to you, reflect on what God is telling you. Ask God to reveal to you what action you should take to honor the word.
Contemplation. Relax into God. Just be quiet and still for a few minutes and know that He is with you and surrounding you with his love.
How to Do Lectio in a Group
Lectio can also be done in a group setting. The group should not be more than eight or there will not be enough time to share. One method of doing group lectio comes from St. Andrews Abbey in Valyermo, CA, and is based on the work of Fr. Luke Dyson and Doug and Norvene Vest. In this method, one or more readers read the same text from the Scriptures three times, followed each time by a period of silence and an opportunity for each member of the group to share her or his lectio. Here is an example of how it works:
- One person reads the Bible passage aloud and then repeats it. The passage should not be a long one; a few verses or a single parable is plenty. Group members should listen carefully to hear a word or phrase that grabs their attention.
- Be quiet for 1-2 minutes. Each member hears and silently repeats the word or phrase that attracts them. Don’t try to do Biblical interpretation: just quietly and peacefully repeat the passage to yourself.
- Go around the group for each member to share their word or phrase. That’s all; no elaboration at this stage.
- Another member reads the same passage the second time.
- Be quiet for 2-3 minutes while each member asks himself or herself, “How does my chosen word touch me? How does it touch what is going on in my life?” Alternatively, the group can use imagination to see where the word takes them.
- Go around the group again. Each member briefly says a response to “I hear…” or “I see…” Members can also briefly share the image if they are using imaging prayer.
- A third person reads the same passage.
- Be quiet for 2-3 minutes. Each member reflects what they believe God is telling them to do today or this week in response to the word they were given.
- The group shares aloud a third time, this time taking somewhat longer.
- After full sharing, pray. Depending on the size of the group and/or the time allowed, the group members may each pray for the person on their right.
Lectio Divina on Life
Lectio divina should most often be done in the Bible, God’s Word to us. But God also speaks through the events of our lives, and as we grow more comfortable with lectio and intimate with God we can discover Him more clearly in our lives.
In lectio on life, we sit down to read and meditate on the experiences of our lives, seeing where God is working and communication with us. We can do lectio on our recent life or on past events that still affect us.
- Pray for God to bless you and speak to you during this time.
- Sit quietly, relax and breathe.
- Review events, situations, things you saw and encounters you have had. These could be recent or farther in your past.
- Choose one event or occurrence to focus on. Remember the setting and sensory details of the event. (If the event was painful, ask Jesus to help you gently approach it.)
- Here are some questions you might ask:
- Is there a particular part of the memory that holds the most energy? It could be a memory of a person, an object, something that was said.
- Was there a turning point or shift?
- Where is God present in the memory? Were you aware of his presence at the time? If you were not, be aware of his presence now.
- Once you have relaxed and relived the memory, use a word or phrase from the Scriptures to offer it up to God. Allow God to accept and bless the memory.
- Be quiet for a while.
- Record your memory, the Scripture you prayed over it, and anything that you feel God has told you.