Posted by: Mark | March 9, 2009

My take on Lectio Divina

As I stated in my post on Ash Wednesday, I want to be more deliberately prayerful during Lent 2009, especially through the form called “Lectio Divina.”

Lectio Divina is an ancient form of Christian prayer, literally translating as “divine reading” from the Latin. Now I know that it’s much more hip in the Bay Area for your spirituality to be based in Zen Buddhism or something along those lines, but I really dig Lectio Divina because it is a deeply personal way to prayer, and is based solidly on scriptures. Probably my favorite part about Lectio is the fact that it is best done in a small group with other people, and so while it’s very personal, it’s also a shared experience.

The basic gist is to hear the reading aloud and to process it quietly and thoughtfully in your own way. In looking online, there are slightly different varieties in the specific steps that are taken during Lectio. Here’s how I do it:

-Find a reading. I tend to look at the weekly readings (1st, 2nd, and Gospel) and find the most poetic of the three.
-Take a few minutes of quiet and deep breathing to mellow out.
-One person will then read the reading out loud, nice and slow.
-After the first reading, each member of the group will say the word or phrase that stood out from the reading….the part that seemed most pertinent to them. As each person talks, there is no response or commentary back. It is instead just individual speaking with an audience there. There is not necessarily an order to this; you just talk.
-After the first “discussion,” you then pass the reading to a second person, who reads it again, nice and slow.
-The second time around, the group then shares in the same way in the first segment. However, rather than just say the word or phrase that stood out most, the individual shares why (s)he thinks that this word or phrase stood out at that moment. In other words, if the phrase was “love,” the person may be feeling a lot of love, or lack of love, and thus the mention of love stood out. It can be tough to share things this personal, but it also feels great. This segment lasts much longer than the first time through, and no one who shares should ever feel like they need to wrap things up because they are lasting too long. It’s just thoughtful sharing and non-judgmental listening.
-Finally, the reading is passed to a third person for a third reading, nice and slow.
-For the third share, now that everyone has heard the reading 3 times, everyone should not only have a phrase in mind, but definitely a better sense of the larger context of the phrase. And for sharing, the individual says what action the reading seems to call the person to do. So, back to our “love” example, the individual may say that they feel like they haven’t been expressing their love enough to the people close to them, and therefore is going to make a point of calling an old friend in the next few days to catch-up.

Wow I just realized it’s really hard to write instructions for a genderless individual. So those directions kind of sucked, but lectio divina doesn’t so don’t let that discourage you.

Lectio Divina is awesome. It’s extremely rewarding, it allows you to connect to people on a wonderful, spiritual level, not to mention of course the profound impact it can have on your person mood and feelings. I highly recommend to anyone out there to give it a shot.



  1. Mark,

    In general I’m more prone to midlessly follow the hip bay area trend regarding spirituality, but i enjoyed reading about lectio divina anyway. Seems a very thoughtful way to enjoy scripture. Appreciate you sharing this part of yourself online.

    Charlie, you may remember as the blond mushroom child who lived below you in the early 90’s.

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