Christians have been developing and practicing various Scripture engagement techniques for hundreds of years. This article is trying to help us understand the true methods of experiencing God in the Bible. The scripture engagement technique the article focuses on is Lectio Divina, this means “sacred reading” in Latin. This practice has been used for over a thousand years. When we read the Bible certain words jump out at us, these special words or verses can give a sense of encouragement, comfort, thankfulness, or conviction that may apply to our current situations, and can draw us closer to God.
Lectio Divina uses God’s own words so that we can have a personal conversation with Him. Though it can draw you closer to God, Lectio Divina is not magic, instead, it involves meditating on God’s word and listening to what he says, this will open us up to daily communication with God so that He can support and sustain us.
There are four stages to Lectio Divina. First is reading, second is meditation, third is prayer, and last is contemplation. To perform this you must set aside time and a place where you can focus intently. Choosing a passage of scripture to meditate on is very important in the process of Lectio Divina. Smaller portions of scripture give you a much more in-depth idea of the passage, while longer passages can be used for a more general understanding of scripture as a whole. One way of doing this is to focus on a theme of the Bible, for example, love, patience, kindness, etc. Most importantly make sure to practice with passages you already have familiarity with, because the purpose Is to experience and feed on what you already know.
Before performing Lectio Divina you should ask yourself, is your heart in the right place in order to listen to God? Before you begin you should sit silently and forget about all the stresses in your life(sort of like meditating), so you can focus on the task at hand. Once you become calm ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and reveal what should be shown to you, by keeping Satan and his lies away. It is absolutely vital to remember exactly what you are reading. You should read the Bible the same way you would read a letter from an adoring father.
Reading is the first part of Lectio Divina. While reading you should read very slowly, so that you can note every specific word. Think about the intentionality of the word order, the repetition of words, themes, pictures, and dialogue. Make sure to stay alert to every single word, phrase, or message that stirs you on the inside. After you read the passage one time, read it again, performing the same rituals as you did last time. You should not only see the author’s words with his eyes, but with your heart, mind, and soul.
Meditation uses your imagination. Think about what a phrase that stirred you meant. While playing the scenario through your head, picture/visualize yourself in the setting or context of the passage. Think about the passage again, and question yourself if it was speaking directly to you, is this what the Holy Spirit wanted to show me today? Lastly, ask yourself about how you might apply this to your life. Then ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate that passage so that you can grasp the message in terms of your own life. This is important because it helps us keep our memory active. Meditation is a way to allow the passage that we read before, to not go through one ear and out the other. Meditation allows a passage to penetrate our understanding with depth.
Prayer requires you to take all the thoughts, feelings, actions, fears, convictions, and questions you have and offer them unto the Lord In a prayer. Request forgiveness from the Lord if you have done wrong and ask for guidance throughout the rest of your days. If you feel thankful for the things God has done or provided for you, then pour out these things with appreciation and worship. Present your problems unto the Lord and ask for peace in guidance to be able to perform God’s will. Simply talk to God and tell Him your feelings.
The last step is contemplation. In contemplation, we are to be silent in the presence of God. This is one of the main ways that we can grow and develop a relationship with the Lord. While in this state we should relax and embrace the calmness of the presence of the Lord, just be with Him. We don’t always need to be talking to God, instead, we can simply sit in the presence of God and feel his love and embrace towards us. As we do this we should resist the urge to think about everything wrong that’s going on in your life, so that you can sit in the love that is shared between Jesus and us. Part of contemplation involves the thought of committing ourselves, with the help of God, to perform/do the truth that he has set in our heart. This truth is submitting to God’s word and living out our faith in Christ. Once done with contemplation you can repeat the process of Lectio Divina or thank the Lord for what he has done and end the session.