Lectio Divina

The Latin words lectio divina, which mean "divine reading" or "spiritual reading," refer to the slow, meditative reading of a passage from Scripture. It is a form of prayer that focuses on listening and responding to God's word.

Lectio divina is traditionally characterized by four movements: lectio (reading), meditatio(meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation).

Four Steps

There is no standard way of doing lectio divina, but the following method has proven helpful to beginners.

  1. Read (Lectio): Read a passage from Scripture. "Listen" to God's word. Gather the facts. Does a particular word or phrase speak to you?

  2. Reflect (Meditatio): Read the passage again. Reflect on the passage as a whole or on a particular phrase. What is God saying to you?

  3. Respond (Oratio): Read the Scripture once again. Respond to God with your heart. What do you want to say to God?

  4. Rest (Contemplatio*): Read the selection a final time. Rest in God's presence for a few minutes.

* Strictly speaking, contemplation is a gift of grace that depends on the movement of the Holy Spirit. It is a real awareness of God, desiring and loving Him, beyond concepts, feelings and particular acts.

Further Reading

Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Michael Casey, OCSO, Liguori Publications, 1997.

"Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina" by Luke Dysinger, OSB. You can read or download the article here.

Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina by Dr. Tim Gray, Ascension Press, 2009.