For the past month I’ve been practicing Lectio Divina (roughly, “divine reading”) rather faithfully. I say “rather” because I can’t say as I’ve practiced it every day. But, more often than not I’ve taken the time to just read the text and pray. I wrote a post many fortnights ago regarding Lectio Divina. Since that time I’ve read quite a bit more on the topic. I’ve also begun practicing myself. One of my motivations with this is that I wanted to possibly teach Lectio Divina in a spiritual disciplines series I’m doing this fall in Sunday School. Obviously, this being the case, I needed to partake of the practice myself.
In the month, or little more, that I’ve been doing my own personal Lectio I’ve found it to be quite refreshing. Those who know me well would describe me as an intellectual who can be, at times, skeptical of emotion. So, when I say that I find Lectio Divina refreshing, it really is saying something. For me it fills that “devotional” space in my life. I’m constantly studying the Bible, and in that studying I’m at times convicted, at times encouraged, at times comforted, and a host of other things. But I am studying, it’s really hard work and may consist of reading a paragraph of scripture and then spending an hour reading commentaries, background material, and translating the passage from the original Greek or Hebrew (one day we’ll add Aramaic to that list!). I don’t think this is a bad thing, quite the opposite, I think more Christians need to partake in (dare I say) the discipline of Bible Study. At the same time I’m beginning to come to the realization that at times it is important to set that study aside and instead read the text simply and allow it to form us. Of course, formation can happen during Bible study, but being deliberate in setting aside some time to just read the text is a good thing too.
I’ve found that, for me, my Bible study and what I know about the Bible from past study, informs my times of Divine Reading. Since I know some of the backgrounds of the text, some things are more clear to me in a simple reading than they may otherwise be. Again, this is a new experience for me, and as such it has that novelty aspect to it. This not withstanding, I would encourage anyone to make time for reading the text, meditating on it, praying it, and being silent in God’s presence at least weekly. Of course, I also think Christians should learn the original languages and discipline themselves to study the Bible. Perhaps I ask too much?
I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with Lectio Divina with students this fall (which is to say, in about a month). Hopefully throughout the time we spend talking about Spiritual Disciplines some of the students will be motivated to begin practicing a discipline or two themselves. Now, if only I can juggle school, pastoring (in the sense of shepherding), teaching (Sunday school), and a few other things, along with being a husband, all should be good.