How many times have you heard someone say that they knew something in their head but not in their heart? As we seek God through his word, we learn true things he has said. God loves the world. He did something about it. We can trust him. He wants to help us. The list goes on…
But as we walk away from reading, a bible study, or a church service, sometimes we have “learned” a new thing without internalizing it. That is, we walk away with new information, but not with new life.
And other times, we hear something from God and it cuts us to the heart. We realize the gravity of this new reality. And our lives change forever.
What’s the difference between these two results? Can we do anything about it?
The people of God have, for quite some time, worked to live out God’s life on earth by learning it from his word. And our spiritual fathers and mothers developed something to help with this move from our head to our heart, from our knowledge base to our actions. They called it meditation.
Christian meditation is not emptying the mind and chanting some unintelligible sounds. Rather, it is engaging with God and his word in a dynamic way that helps us to internalize his reality.
One form of Christian meditation is meditation on the word, anciently called “Lectio Divina.”
Take a moment to try it. The process takes less than 15 minutes and can radically alter our day and our hearts. So give it a whirl. Maybe even try it once a day for a week and see how it affects you.
1. Lectio – Reading: Start by reading through the text at least twice. Take it slow and remember this is “relational” reading. Reflect. Go at an easy pace. The question behind the reading is, “God, what are you saying to me now?”
2. Meditatio – Meditation: Reflect on where you are in the text. Bring your entire self to the text, i.e. your own memory, experience, thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, intuitions, intentions, … Imagine yourself there – on the boat, in the wilderness, as part of the story.
3. Oratio – Prayer: Respond to what you have read and thought about in prayer. Allow yourself to speak to God freely. Maybe the words touched a hurt or longing; allow yourself to express that anger, sadness, or desire. Maybe it has revealed something broken that needs to change; simply offer a confession and ask for God’s mercy and renewal. Maybe it has evoked gratitude, sparked joy, or brought comfort; say thanks and give God praise.
4. Comtemplatio – Rest: Now, take a breath and come to a place of rest in God. Simply be with him after this interaction. Take time to just place yourself before him without need of requests or offerings. God is love. We don’t need to bring him anything but ourselves, for he has made the way. Rest in his delight in you, and yours in him.
Lectio Divina steps based on “Soul Feast,” by Marjorie Thompson