If you’ve ever visited a Benedictine monastery, you might have heard about the monastic practice of lectio divina. This practice, which literally translates as divine reading, is by no means exclusive to monastic communities. Many individuals and groups find it a useful way of praying with scripture. It provides a slow, contemplative way of meditating on the Bible and listening to what God is saying to you personally through the text. It can be done alone or in groups.
The process of Lectio Divina in a group
Before beginning a group session of lectio divina, you’ll need to agree on a Bible passage to use. Some find the New Testament easier and more accessible than the Old Testament especially if you have not done it before. You’ll also need to agree on someone to lead the session. This person will then guide the group through the stages of lectio divina. One thing for the leader to bear in mind is that silences always seem longer than they actually are, so you might like to time 3-5 minutes for each silence to allow people to think, pray and share.
- Reading/Listening. When starting, it’s important to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. First, allow people to find a comfortable position, become silent and start to focus on their breathing. Breathing slowly helps to calm you down before you read or listen for the first time. Encourage people to listen to the sounds in the background around them. Some like to use a word or phrase as a ‘centering prayer’ during this time. Read through the passage once slowly. Allow a time of silence and then ask people to share, without elaboration, one word or short phase that attracts them.
- Reflection. Ask another person to read through the passage and invite people to reflect on how the passage is speaking to their life today. Again, allow a period of silence and time for people to share briefly.
- Calling. Ask a third person to read through the passage and invite members of the group to think about what God is calling them to do through this passage. Allow a time for silence and sharing.
- Resting. Finally, encourage people to rest in God’s presence either with a final reading of the passage or another time of silent prayer. A short concluding prayer is a good way to end.
“Meditating together is a wonderful experience, for reasons that I don't fully understand. It's like silently moving toward God in each other’s slipstream. Somehow shared silence makes the silence deeper and the stillness almost tangible.”David, Manchester SCM
This resource was written by Andy Treharne, a former member of Southampton SCM.
Prayer and Liturgy
Running a Group