Here is a brief overview of the form of lectio divina. There are four Latin words that outline the movements of lectio divina: lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation).
Find a quiet place where you will not be distracted by what’s around you or what’s not around you. Find a helpful time in your day when you will not be distracted by sleepiness, what’s next, or your stomach’s rumblings. Read the words of the Scripture slowly one time – maybe even out loud. Stop, and read the words once more at a slower pace. Restfully, quietly let those words sink in. Don’t move on until you’ve really heard and listened to the words of the Scripture.
Chew on the words that you have read a bit. Ponder them. Let God bring something to the forefront of your mind. That’s what meditation is all about. What word or phrase is God drawing out from these words specifically for you? Let that word or phrase resonate in your mind. What does it make you feel or think? Stop here and let the word or phrase sink in. Don’t rush into the next step. Slow down.
The primary way to think of prayer in this setting is as conversation. God has drawn something out – spoken something – for you. Now, talk with Him about that word or phrase that He has brought to your mind. Ask Him why He is lodging it in your mind today. Maybe it is unsettling. Let Him know that it is unsettling and speak honestly to Him about it. Maybe it is comforting. Speak to Him about the words of comfort. Finally, ask Him what He wants you to do with it today. “Lord, what do you want me to do with what You have given me today?” Continue the conversation. Listen.
At its core, contemplation is considering what you have heard from God and then being still within that. Rest in what God is speaking to you. Simply sit still and think about how it should impact your real life. One helpful practice you could begin would be to have a journal in which you record what you experience each time you read the Scriptures in this way. Perhaps you could share it with someone today, whether that is a close friend or your small group. Above all, act on what God has spoken to you.
Take some time in prayer to slowly draw out of your encounter with God. Again, slow down and do not rush. Also don’t forget to thank Him for the time you have shared together.
If you’d like to read more about lectio divina, you could take a look at Eugene Peterson’s book entitled Eat This Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006).