Lectio Divina means “sacred reading.” We often understand reading as gaining information, but this is different.
We understand what wind is by feeling it blow in our face. We know what snow is like when we make a snowball or watch snowflakes collect on our mittens. This sort of knowing transcends the intellect; it is direct, sensate and experiential. Devotional reading, or lectio divina, invites us into that kind of knowing. It is the kind of knowing for which Paul prayed when he said,
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, emphasis added)
The first 1,500 years of church history were characterized by the practice of lectio divina. Since many people were illiterate and many that could read didn’t have Bibles, lectio divina offered a way of attending to Scripture as it was read in church, with an ear to hearing a word from God. A brief and memorable word or phrase became bread for the soul throughout the week. Devotional reading is not an exercise in mentally critiquing or exegeting the text. It exists to further divine companionship. Lectio divina invites us into God’s presence to listen for his particular, loving word to me at this particular moment in time. In lectio one listens to the word as it is read aloud—or you read the text aloud for yourself.
Devotional/Sacred reading of Scripture is rooted in the assurance that every part of the biblical story—letters, parables, Gospels, Prophets, history—is inspired and can give voice to God’s particular word to us.