Home > Brian's Blogs, Prayer > Reading & Praying the Bible Formationally, part 5

Reading & Praying the Bible Formationally, part 5

Yesterday I introduced the ancient practice of lectio divina as a way to read and pray the Bible formationally.  A lot more could be said, but today I just want to point to some resources that have been helpful in this formational exercise.

First, the most important way to learn about lectio divina is simply to do it for an extended period of time.  There is no other alternative.  My practice since Advent has been to follow the Revised Common Lectionary.  The Lectionary provides four readings each week: an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament epistle reading, and a Gospel reading.  These texts are relatively short and provide a nice boundary for practicing lectio divina four times per week.

FYI: The Revised Common Lectionary can be found here.  We are currently on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, but May 13 has four selections itself because it is Ascension Day.

If you want help working through a passage in two steps as suggested yesterday, I highly recommend Richard Peace’s Contemplative Bible Reading.  In this study guide, Dr. Peace goes through 5 passages in 10 sessions.  Each passage is given two sessions because the first session is more informational, and the second session is focused on lectio divina.  The book also has suggestions for how to go through this process as a group, something that some small groups may want to try.

A final resource for the theory and practice of lectio divina is Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading.  This is – as expected from Peterson – a brilliant book that challenges how we read the Bible.  I’ll close this post with a few quotes from Peterson for those who are interested.

“Not that Christians don’t own and read their Bibles.  And not that Christians don’t believe that their Bibles are the word of God.  What is neglected is reading the Scriptures formatively, reading in order to live.” (xi)

“But Holy Scripture is the source document, the authoritative font, the work of the Spirit that is definitive in all true spirituality.  What I mean to insist upon is that spiritual writing – Spirit-sourced writing – requires spiritual reading, a reading that honors words as holy, words as a basic means of forming an intricate web of relationships between God and the human, between all things visible and invisible.  There is only one way of reading that is congruent with our Holy Scriptures…This is the kind of reading named by our ancestors as lectio divina, often translated “spiritual reading,” reading that enters our souls as food enters our stomachs, spreads through our blood, and becomes holiness and love and wisdom.” (4)

“So, lectio divina.  A way of reading that guards against depersonalizing the text into an affair of questions and answers, definitions and dogmas.  A way of reading that prevents us from turning Scripture on its head and using it to justify ourselves like that pathetic religion scholar was trying to do with Jesus.  A way of reading that abandons the attempt to take control of the text as if it were helpless without our help.  A way of reading that joins the company of Galilean women at the tomb as they abandon the spices and ointments with which they were going to take care of the Word made flesh, the Jesus they expected to find wrapped in grave clothes, and embrace the resurrection of that same Word and all the words brought to life in him.  A way of reading that intends the fusion of the entire biblical story and my story.  A way of reading that refuses to be reduced to just reading but intends the living of the text, listening and responding to the voices of that “so great a cloud of witnesses” telling their stories, singing their songs, preaching their sermons, praying their prayers, asking their questions, having their children, burying their dead, following Jesus…Lectio divina provides us with a discipline, developed and handed down by our ancestors, for recovering the contest, restoring the intricate web of relationships to which the Scriptures give witness but that are so easily lost or obscured in the act of writing.” (90-91)

Categories: Brian's Blogs, Prayer Tags: , ,
  1. May 23, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for this post.

    I’m leading a session on Lectio Divina in a couple fo week’s time and the Peterson quote was really helpful.

    God bless,


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