Lectio Divina is one of the best ways for Bible reading, derived from the Benedictine traditions. It consists of four stages.
- Reading (Lectio)
- Meditate (Meditatio)
- Pray (Oratio)
- Contemplate (Contemplatio)
Actual reading is only on the first stage (lectio). We can understand the content at this stage. But this is superficial. Understanding what it says is not enough. We have to meditate on it. What does this mean?
In the second stage (meditatio), we should spend a certain amount of time to reflect on the meaning of the Scriptures. Of course, we could study it – its historical background, sociocultural implications, lexical perspectives, translations, and so on. Hermeneutics could be in this category.
More importantly, however, it should be existential. What this is meant for you in this particular here and now is more important. Perhaps, you have already read this passage many times. And you are rereading it. But, the very context that you are here and now is only taking place at this precious moment. Here, you could possibly read it with your fresh eye as if you are reading it for the first time. Or, the particular situation you are facing here and now together with your new set of knowledge, experience, and wisdom, could provide a new perspective.
In short, we are chewing the passage.
After spending much time with it, then, we could help but pray. What we have mediated would overwhelm, ignite, and inspire us. In this very moment, we feel prayer is the only thing to do. Prayer emerges from your deep inside almost spontaneously, which is at the stage of oratio.
If reading the Scripture is hearing from God, then prayer is talking to Him. In this stage, however, our prayer is no longer chatty repetitions of nifty phrases, but our own bold words. This prayer is existentially our own — fearing, trembling, confessing, repenting, thanking, and praising.
Such naked prayer leads us to contemplation (contemplatio). In it, we realize that God is neither here nor there. Often, prayer implies that God is somewhere we seek after and pray. In contemplation, God is beyond such time and space. He is never objectified. There is no longer such duality as “I will” and “He will.” In contemplation, there is only “He will.”
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.Matthew 6:10
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within youLuke 17:21
Photo by John-Mark Smith