PASTOR ALLWIN JOHNSON - ENJOY BIBLE READING USING LECTIO DIVINA
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ENJOY BIBLE READING USUNG LECTIO DIVINA

PASTOR ALLWIN JOHNSON


 
We are living in a fast world in which people want to do every thing at a rapid pace. They do not take time to listen God or speak to him. People pray and read the Bible as a duty. They read one or two chapters in haste and pray some memorised words and it becomes mechanical. Even though I am a theological student, I am not able to keep my devotion constantly, so a guilty conscience irks me every day. I tried to read the Bible sincerely but I could not. When I read the book, “The Lost Art of Meditation” by Shiela Pritchard, in the first chapter I found out my mistake and in the second chapter I discovered how to recover from it. I found out that I hastily read the Bible and did not meditate. So I did not enjoy it. When I found out the method of Lectio Divina, my devotion time became interesting. Each day God gives fresh words and thoughts which are helpful for the whole day.


LECTIO DIVINA


Lectio Divina is a Roman Catholic ancient art of reading the Bible. It is a Latin term means Divine Reading, which is practiced by monks in the monastery. Shiela Pritchard quotes the sixth century Benedictine monk, Abbot Marmion and the monk says that, “we read under the eye of God until the heart is touched and leaps to flame.” They assumed themselves as sitting before the eyes of God and reading slowly until they get a specific word from God. After they get a word they meditate it until their heart get sanctified. In short, Lectio Divina is a prayerful reading which strengthens and empowers our lives. It is not a human effort but it is lead by the Holy spirit. In ancient days people practiced Lectio Divina in groups since there were no individual copies of scriptures. One would read the scripture slowly and others would listen. When they received word from God, they left to lonely places and meditated it. Lectio Divina method comprises four steps:



i) READING (LECTIO)


Reading the Bible is not like reading news papers. We must read slowly with our whole heart and mind, to unify ourselves with the Bible passage.
When a particular phrase attracts us, stop going further and silently repeat that phrase. Shiela Pritchard illustrates this by two road signals, “Go slow and Stop.” We should read slowly and stop when a phrase speaks to us. After I knew this I opened my the Bible and read psalm 17. I read it slowly with my heart and mind before God. In the third verse a particular phrase drew my attention, “Though you test me, you will find nothing” Psalm 17:3. This was a challenging verse to me, so I asked Jesus to help me to live worthy of this statement. God answered my and gave me a good day.


ii) MEDITATING (MEDITATIO)


Meditating is analysing a particular verse applying to our life. Foster illustrates this with the example of “Cow chewing the cud.” Cow eats the grass and takes rest to settle them in stomach. Then it takes it out and chew it slowly, to change it into a creamy milk. Likewise when a specific verse appeals to us we should slowly meditate (chew) it to make it useful. Mary the mother of Jesus did the same thing, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke
2:19). Mary meditated deeply on the birth of Jesus Christ. Shiela Pritchard has given some questions for meditating a verse: “why this attracted me? What image I have for this idea? How does this verse relate to my life? What God wants me to know from this? Whether it is comforting or challenging?” These questions will help us to explore the given word of God. One day, when I was worrying about the future life I began to read the Bible. In Romans 8:16, the phrase “We are God's children” spoke to me personally. I already knew this well but this time it was afresh. When I meditated it, in imagination I saw Jesus was sitting in a throne and I was sitting beside him. I realised that I am the son of the king of kings, and soon all the fears and worries left me.


iii) PRAYING (ORATIO)


Prayer is our response to God after God speaks through the Bible. Many think that prayer is asking God for our daily needs but it is speaking with God in love. Since Lectio Divina is a two way communication, God speaks first through his word and then we have to respond it. Talking is not the only mode of prayer. Some times our tears, sorrow, silence, rejoice, shout and even dance could be a prayer. Paul writes in Romans 8:26, that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” When I entered SAIACS, I felt lonely because most of the students are seniors and highly educated ones in theology. One day I prayed to God about my future in college. God reminded me of Genesis 45:8 that, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” Jesus comforted me by saying, “you came here not by man but by God.” After I heard this, I joyfully jumped in my room till I got tired and thus I expressed my joy. The Holy Spirit will interpret our feelings into prayers to God.


iv) CONTEMPLATING (CONTEMPLATIO)


Contemplating is silently resting in God's presence and sinking into his glory. Joyce Huggett says that, “the power this silence generated stunned me” It is a sensational experience and it leads us to a union with God. Jesus said to his disciples, “Abide in me as I abide in you”(John 15:4). Contemplation helps us to abide in Jesus. Ecstasy is a state in which we forget the world and its worries and attain eternal happiness. I enjoyed much in contemplation since it takes me to heavenly atmosphere.


CONCLUSION


Therefore Lectio Divina is a useful method of reading the Bible. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” The first three steps help us to find and purify our sins and the final stage leads to divine union. If we meditate the word of God in this pattern, we can get a intimate relationship with God. In times of trouble, the Spirit of God will remind us a verse and by meditating it we can overcome the problem. We should journalize the experiences of meditation and contemplation. Because experiences are valuable and may not come again. It will serve us as a reference in future. We can see that, most of David's psalms are his spiritual journals and they are still reviving thousands of souls.

 

i)Reading (Lectio)
ii) Meditating (Meditatio)
iii) Praying (Oratio)
iv) Contemplating (Contemplatio)
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