Lectio Divina is a form of mental prayer. With this form of prayer one reads scripture or another text related to God. Here, the goal is to seek the word or phrase to which the Holy Spirit is directing you. It is hard to describe how I experience the Holy Spirit working within me. For one, I don’t always figure it out. I think this is because I am resisting or distracted sometimes. When I do connect, it feels kind of like like a tugging at the heart or even a flutter. Sometimes, it feels like warmth and peace. It might take you a while to figure it out, but trust the Holy Spirit to help bring you to where he is working.
Let me see if I can provide an example of this form of prayer. Say you are reading the text of the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew’s gospel, and you read” forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us.” You feel a tug on the word “forgive.” From here, you would use this word as a mantra or sit in silence while your mind thinks about the word forgiveness. You may know immediately what aspect of forgiveness He is drawn to your attention, but you might just have to sit with that in prayer for a while. We may not always understand why we felt called to that word or phrase; however, if we have given the Holy Spirit permission to work within us through our prayer time, we know that he is doing what needs to be done.
The word or phrase may speak to you in a way that is out of context with what you are reading. I wish I could remember an example where this occurred in my own prayer life, but I can’t. I just know that sometimes it’s about the word or phrase, and not about the surrounding text.
How does one select the text? There is no right or wrong way; however, that does not keep me from feeling concerned about not finding “the right text” sometimes. So, I find it beneficial to limit the selection process by using the lectionary of the Catholic Church. I just trust that it is where God is working. Sometimes, I had to wait 10 or 15 minutes while continuing to read or ponder the text before it became clear, but I cannot think of a time where this process did not work, except when I didn’t have the time or patience to wait. Some people use Bible roulette I am throw open the Bible and start reading. You can just start at the beginning of a book, the middle, or the end. You can use the devotional you are reading. The Holy Spirit can speak to us through any text so long as we sit with that text seeking where he is working.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit today practicing this form of prayer. Invite him in to the text or scripture that you choose. Ask him to show you where he is working. Trust that he is with you and faithful. When you are finished, thank and praise him for working with and you. Do this especially if you did not connect to a word or phrase. It is important to keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is always faithful. We are the ones who sometimes miss the lead, get confused, or otherwise miss the point.
Ms. Debra D. Weldon, O.P., MTS