Have you ever been frustrated after reading the Bible? I know reading Scripture is a way God uses to grow us closer to Jesus, but it is so difficult sometimes. The Bible can be confusing and doesn’t always make sense. What if I told you there was a simpler way to discern what God is saying to you through the Bible, and that you probably have already experienced it if you have ever read the Bible before?

There is an old practice of reading scripture dating back to the 3rd century, called Lectio Divina (LD) or divine reading, and it will help us hear from God when we read the Bible. The best part is that some of you are already doing this! Lectio Divina has four steps:  Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate.   

Step 1:  Read

Take a section of scripture and read it. Actually read it. Don’t skim it. Don’t speed-read it. Read it. Read it slowly. Read it more than once. Sometimes it is best to take a smaller section of verses instead of a whole chapter, somewhere around 10-15 verses. Historically, monks would not just read the text silently but would read the text aloud to engage more of their senses. As you are reading, notice the word, phrase, or image that sticks out to you. Read the section until something jumps of the page. This word or phrase I believe is the spirit of God illuminating something in the text that God wants to use to speak to you.

Step 2:  Meditate

Mediation is a funny image for some of us. My mind instantly goes to Rafiki in The Lion King, sitting cross-legged saying, “OOOOOMMMMM.”  To meditate is to think upon something. Take your word, phrase, or image from the passage you read and just think about it. Why is God highlighting this word, phrase, or image? At this point, I write down all the thoughts that come to mind central to this word, phrase, or image. Sometimes a person comes to mind, or sometimes it’s a past memory that God wants to speak into today. After thinking on this word, phrase, or image and writing down other thoughts associated with it, you are now ready for Step 3.

Step 3:  Pray

Begin talking to God and asking him why he is bringing your specific word, phrase, or image to mind and what he wants you to do about it. At this point, God might give you an action step for today, something small that you can do, that will lead you closer to him. Your action step will probably begin to come to you in little thoughts throughout your time of meditation. You have already read scripture, thought on one thing that stuck out, and through prayer have heard a practical action step in your life. What is next?  

Step 4:  Contemplate

You have just heard from God through Scripture! Woohoo! In this moment before we move to action, we contemplate the moment we just had, a moment where God spoke to us and gave us guidance through his scriptures directly into our lives. We take a moment and thank him and praise him before we go about the rest of our day.  

Scripture reading can be difficult sometimes, but I love using this practice to hear from God in both big and small things, and I hope it encourages you as you jump into the Scriptures.

— Russell Schultz