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Sacred Reading

Through the lectio divina, we can connect with God in prayer, meditation and contemplation BY CAPTAIN MARK BRAYE

reading, meditating, prayer and contemplation.” “Reading,” wrote Guigo II, “is the careful study of the Scriptures, concentrating all one’s powers on it.” Reading a biblical text is where we start with lectio divina. It is an intentional and attentive reading. We cannot read the Bible during lectio divina in the same manner with which we might skim through the sports section of a newspaper or an article on the Internet. We should take our time and pay attention to words or phrases that speak to our hearts and minds.

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Read Prior to beginning, take a moment to ask God to guide your heart and mind as you engage in his Word. Then, slowly and intently, begin to read—this can even be done out loud. While any passage of Scripture can be used, it shouldn’t be too long. Here is an example from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi:

L

ectio divina is Latin for sacred or divine reading. It is a spiritual practice that promotes and facilitates communion with God. Its inception lies in the earliest days of Christianity, particularly in the teachings of the desert fathers and mothers and in the Benedictine trad-

ition. The essential description of lectio divina was written much later by a Carthusian prior named Guigo II in the 12th century: “One day when I was busy working with my hands I began to think about our spiritual work, and all at once four stages in spiritual exercise came into my mind:

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11). Meditate Reading leads to meditating or

reflecting upon the passage. Guigo II wrote: “Meditation is the busy application of the mind to seek with the help of one’s own reason for knowledge of inner truth.” During this second stage of lectio divina we think about the passage and what it means to our spiritual journey. We think about words or phrases that catch our attention and meditate on them. We should allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the words of the Bible. Pray Meditation and reflection lead to prayer. After reading the above passage from Philippians, we may pray to be more like Jesus or offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s saving work on the cross. Our reading turns into a conversation. We speak, God listens; God speaks, we listen. Contemplate After prayer comes contemplation, not in the sense of formal study but rather in becoming still in the presence of God. “Contemplation,” wrote Guigo II, “is when the mind is in some sort lifted up to God and held above itself, so that it tastes the joys of everlasting sweetness.” This is an opportunity to surrender our own plans and ideas and focus solely on the presence of God. We have had our knowledge of God increased, as well as our relationship with him deepened. Lectio divina is not solely for monks or Christians of the past. The practice can benefit the spiritual journey of all of us, personally and corporately. Lectio divina is a wonderful way to engage our Bibles and commune with our Triune God. Captain Mark Braye and his wife, Nancy, are the corps officers of Temiskaming Community Church in New Liskeard, Ont. They have two children, Hannah and Micah. Salvationist I April 2012 I 17


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