Lectio Divina

Literally “Divine Reading”

You can use these steps for praying with scripture, selecting a passage that seems right for you.

Read the Word (Lectio)

Read the passage slowly, stopping when a word or phrase “shimmers” (stands out, catches your attention), becoming a transparency of God for you.  The intention is not to get to the end of a passage but to the bottom of it in God, to the word or phrase through which God touches you now.  This is not always a strong awareness.  Sometimes a word may shimmer only faintly, but enough to give you a dim sense of God’s presence through it.

Reflect on the Word (Meditation or Meditatio)

Move toward an understanding of God in the word.  What might the spiritual meaning of the word be for your life?  Do not try to force a meaning; rather allow the meaning to show itself.  It may not be clear to you.  You need only trust that God is at work in you at a deep level, and you do not have to understand clearly what is happening.  This will emerge as it is really important for you to know.  Your steady trust and openness to God is what matters.

Respond in Prayer (Prayer or Oratio)

The Word of God moves from the mind to the heart.  Responding to whatever meaning might have shown itself, move to active prayer: for your heart to open to God in direct communion, and for your will to open to God in responsive action, as that may be called for.  Your prayer might be joy, or petition, or thanks, or adoration – whatever authentic response arises in you.

Rest in God (Contemplation or Contemplatio)

Finally, move to a still presence in God, a simple resting in God.  Gently release thoughts as they come.  If you find your thoughts “kidnapping” you away from that Presence, use the word or phrase which spoke to you in the passage as a centering prayer, bringing you back gently to your sense of God’s presence, without judging yourself.  Simply wait upon the Lord.


Suggested Bibliography for Praying With Scripture

Hall, Thelma. Too Deep For Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina.  New York: Paulist Press, 1988.

Smith, Martin, SSJL. The Word is Very Near You. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Press, 1989.

January 01, 2009 by Shalem Institute
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Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


Grounded in our understanding of God’s desire for peace, wholeness and well-being, we envision a world transformed by contemplative living and leadership in which all people honor one another and creation, recognize their unity and interconnectedness, and courageously seek to live out of this reality.