Practicing Lectio Divina

By Jim LaDoux
“Lectio,” it is often called, is an ancient practice of reading the Bible and praying. It is a practice that assumes God’s Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures and that the Holy Spirit also desires to speak to us today through the Scriptures. It is a practice that can be used by anyone and can take 10 minutes or 2 hours as you walk through four steps designed to draw you closer to God through prayerful reading of a chosen passage. Begin by quieting your heart and mind and turning your focus to God. Be mindful that you are entering into God’s presence in this holy space. Let everything else go, as best you can, to be with God and hear God’s voice.

4 Basic Steps

Find a passage to read. It can be any passage in the Bible, but some are easier to read and contemplate than others. On the first reading, simply open yourself to the presence of God. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, allowing short pauses between sentences. Over time you will discover whether it is more helpful for you to read silently or out loud - try them both. As you read, take in the words and the overall flow of the passage. Then allow a time of silence following the reading - continue to open yourself to the Spirit of God.

During the second prayerful reading of the passage, listen for words or phrases through which God may be speaking to you. You will notice your attention being drawn to something (or if this doesn't happen, just choose a word). Focus and think on the words, especially any words that “jumped” out to you during the initial readings of the passage. Once you have "received" the word or phrase, begin to silently meditate on that. Reflect on why God may have revealed these words for you today. Listen to what God is revealing to you; make note of questions that come to mind, and items that seem important.

On the third prayerful reading of the passage, listen now for God's invitation and respond from your heart. The Living God is always inviting us in some way... to let go of something or to take up something; to do something or be something... the invitation can take innumerable forms. Like Jacob (Genesis 32), this is where we wrestle with God. This time of wrestling is filled with asking and listening.

The focus of the fourth prayerful reading of the passage is to simply rest now in the love that God has for you. Let the words wash over you- there is no further need to reflect or respond. Allow the Spirit to draw you close and fill you with God’s love, grace, and peace. Feel free to just sit there and let God speak to you in the silence.

Suggestions for Getting Started

Use favorite family scripture passages that you may already read frequently. Consider reading and reflecting on the gospel lesson for the upcoming week. Read the passage three times where a different family member reads it each time, pausing for about 30 seconds before it’s read again by another family member. Invite others to share words and phrases that stand out, sharing why those words have meaning for them. Close with each person offering a short prayer. Many families do this at dinnertime as they wait for the food to be cooked. Light a candle to be reminded of God’s presence among you. Record the passage on your phone and listen to it while driving. Use lectio divina as part of family gathering experiences. Download a Bible app on your phone to make reading and reflecting on the Bible more accessible. Make practicing the presence of God a daily ritual!

The Moravian Church offers Daily Texts based on the Lectio Divine format and has some great questions and prayers to reflect on each day. Considering it for yourself and with others.


  1. When and where can you see yourself using Lectio Divine as a faith practice?
  2. How could you see using it with your family, or at family gatherings?
  3. How might it be used at faith-based leadership meetings?
  4. Which passages would work well for most people to get started?
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