Lectio divina: the art of prayerful listening

Holy Wisdom MonasteryPrayer & Worship, Spirituality Articles Leave a Comment

Lectio_divina“Listen!” is the first word in the Rule of Benedict. While a natural ability for most individuals, it is something that Benedictines hone throughout their lives. They believe that good followers and good leaders are good listeners, who listen not only to themselves and other individuals, but also to God. Lectio divina is one of the daily practices in Benedictine life that helps individuals emphasize the unity of being and doing.

Lectio divina is a prayerful reading of scripture, a way of spending time with the Word of God. Readings are slow and deliberate, allowing the Word to resonate within one’s heart and mind. The process itself has a rhythm that allows individuals time and space to find spiritual meaning beyond the literal text.

Lectio divina differs from traditional Bible study, spiritual reading or prayer because it requires a more concentrated interplay between listening, reflection and application of a specific passage.

When done on an individual basis, the process is organic. An individual follows the ebb and flow of their conversation with God, traversing through spoken word, gentle repetition, reflective prayer and rest. Throughout the process, the individual may feel challenged as God’s word touches one deeply.

When done as a group, the process becomes more structured into phases:

  • During the first reading, the passage may be read aloud twice while each person gently listens for the word or phrase that speaks to them and touches their heart. After a period of silence, all share the word or phrase that has touched his or her heart.
  • During the second reading (of the same scripture), an individual meditates on how the chosen word(s) touch their life. After personal reflection, individuals share how they have heard or perceived God reaching out to them.
  • The third reading is followed by prayer about how the individual is being called to act in their daily life. The individual may then spend time in contemplation with God before praying for the person next to them.

Lectio divina seeks to teach more than the skill of listening. It teaches about the person within and allows individuals to unite with God. By making time in daily life for lectio divina, individuals can connect with their inner being, nurture a bond with God and create a strong relationship with Christ, ultimately resulting in a sense of clarity and understanding for their place in the world.

For more information, contact Sister Lynne Smith at lwsmith@holywisdommonastery.org, 608-836-1631 x198.

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