When we seek spiritual transformation, our bible reading practices diverge onto two separate paths. We read from cover to cover repeatedly throughout our lives in order to know the scriptures. As we invest in this practice, we make the Scriptures our own and our knowledge of God expands. The benefits of consistent reading are manifold; our love, obedience and understanding increase, but this increase comes at the expense of a relatively fast reading pace. Reading for transformation takes a different pace, a slower velocity in which we breathe deeply and immerse our souls in the Scripture, reading with our hearts.
The practice of lectio divina (divine reading) has a long history among God’s people. It is a slower, meditative form of reading in which we approach the Scriptures in smaller segments, seeking to hear the whisper of God more than the accomplishment of a reading objective. We seek out more than an understanding of the words on the page. Divine reading has as its purpose our spiritual transformation through the submission to the scriptures, allowing it to flow through the processing of our eyes and brains and to settle into our hearts to do its work.
“To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.”– St. John Chrysostom
The unit of reading may be a passage, a sentence or phrase or even a single word. Lectio divina is not study, it is reflection and meditation on the Scripture. It relies upon the Spirit to guide and direct our reflection on the reading, to shine the light on what God wants to communicate to you and me specifically. As we develop in the practice, our meditation leads to praying the scriptures to start a new cycle of understanding. The word we hear in response helps us to apply the passage or verse. Obedience follows from application, and transformation from these.
There are four components to the spiritual practice: listening, reflecting, praying and obeying. We will look at each of these separately in the posts that follow in the coming days. This may be a good time to subscribe so that you don’t miss any part of this series. Grace and peace until we meet again.