Lectio Divina 

What is Lectio Divina: Lectio Divina is the slow, prayerful, and meditative reading of the Scriptures. To put it in terms of MCA’s E3 vision, we seek to encounter Christ in the written word (through the Holy Spirit), to embrace what is revealed to us (about God, ourselves, and our mission), so we may embody Jesus in the world.

Why Lectio Divina: Many of us are familiar with Bible study, in which we come to the Scripture with our heads, to analyze it, discuss it, and seek to understand what it is saying. Lectio Divina is another way to approach the Bible, but more with our imaginations and our hearts, in a meditative, prayerful manner, listening for God’s voice.

We practice Lectio Divina because we desire to encounter God in God’s Word. Both Bible study and biblical reflection are vital: Bible study serves the critical importance of explicating the meaning of a text, while Lectio Divina seeks to allow that meaning to sink deep down into our own beings, where it is digested and becomes part of who we are.

How to Practice Lectio Divina: There are four traditional steps to the practice of Lectio Divina:

  1. Lectio (reading): Before you read, take time to centre yourself in God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Read the chosen text slowly. Seek to understand what it is saying (but not in an in-depth Bible study kind of way).
  2. Meditatio (meditation): Re-read the chosen text slowly, one or two more times. Listen with your inner being for any words or phrases that strike you. Take time to reflect on what these words or phrases mean for your life: What am I learning about myself? About God? About my life as a follower of Jesus?
  3. Oratio (prayerful responding): Consider how God has spoken to you in your reading, and respond to God. You might want to carry on a conversation with God, both speaking and listening, based on the following question: “God, how are you calling me/us to live in the light of this?”
  4. Contemplatio (contemplation): In this context, contemplation simply means to rest in God’s presence; it is being mindful of the presence of God with us. End your time by resting in God’s presence, with faith in God’s goodness and love for you.

Visio Divina

What is Visio Divina: Visio Divina is a prayer practice similar to Lectio Divina, only the object for meditation is not God’s Word but an image or a picture. The goal is to encounter God’s presence in what we see, rather than what we read. In the Scriptures, God often engaged his people by giving them visions. God wants to be known by us, and will therefore communicate with us in various ways. In Visio Divina, we look at images with spiritual eyes, as we are attentive to God’s presence, and open to what God might want to communicate to us through the image. 

Why Visio Divina: Since we are all different, it can be helpful to provide different ways to respond to God in prayer: through Scripture, through images, through music, etc.

It can benefit all of us to experiment with different ways to pray, as we engage God through our different senses.

How to Practice Visio Divina:

  1. Before you begin, take time to centre yourself in God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, to help you see what God wants you to see. 
  2. Spend some time on your initial observation of the image. Observe the colors, lines, textures, shapes, and figures. What feelings or thoughts does it evoke in you? Spend some time just experiencing your reaction to the image.
  3. Take time to observe the image a second time. Explore more fully your reactions. Consider how God might be speaking to you through the picture. Why is it evoking a reaction? Could God be trying to say something to you through that reaction? Take time to reflect on your reactions in God’s presence. Is God saying something to you about God, about yourself, about your life as a follower of Jesus?
  4. As with the practice of Lectio Divina, end your time simply resting in and enjoying God’s presence.