Lectio Divina – Reading Scripture in the Wilds


Reading scripture is part and parcel of a Christian’s life. So of course it should be done in the wilds.

The question is how should it be done. Most people read scripture to become familiar with the stories or read it out of some sort of obligation that they think will bless them. It’s really almost impossible to figure out why people read scripture. I’ll put this challenge to you: Leave a comment for why you read scripture down below or shoot me some sort of private message along those lines.

Let me know, I’m genuinely curious – motivation, inspiration, devotion… Let me know.

Lectio Divina is not necessarily apart from all of that. Nor is it apart from the seeking of the information of the stories. One of the wonderful parts of living in a complex world like ours is how things seem to blend together despite our attempts a categorizing.

So, what is Lectio – well basically, ‘lectio’ means reading and ‘divina’ means holy. This is an ancient practice of the church that centers a believer in listening to the word. If you wanted to set up an easy dichotamy that only partially represents the truth, you could say there is ‘reading’ which is predominantly self driven – usually for information or analysis or picking up a stray tidbit – and then there’s lectio divina which encourages a listening approach to scripture – allowing the Holy Spirit to speak.

It isn’t a great way of describing a different reading style – it’s not like people that just pick up a Bible and open it aren’t actually listening. However, lectio requires making oneself more mindful to the word of God. In other words, you mentally and spiritually make your self present – with God’s help.

There are really good guides to lectio out there. So, seek one out and see what you think. In other words, don’t give up if my little backpacking guide doesn’t help, and if you are more experienced in lectio, add some tips in the comments.

1. Be still, be silent, clear your mind

2. Read the text aloud. Slowly. Intentionally.

3. Listen for a word where God speaks to you.

4. Write down what you have felt or heard.

5. Repeat 2 through 4 two times (or more), listening closely for a phrase or a verse that is being spoken to you.

6. Journal or share your experience in the word.

7. Meditate on the texts through out your day, or through out the night. Pick a phrase to repeat, to mumble, to have on your tongue.

Now this is intended for a group but could be done alone. But I believe this is more powerful in a group, especially a group based on mutual discipleship and open discernment. In the back country few of us were facing decisions or temptations or some of our more ingrained sins. Few of us were facing times where we felt out of sink with God or truly stressed out.

I find that where the group is more closely connected and vulnerable with one another, the more depth of insight that can be found. Over the course of the week, I feel like there was more connection with the text and with each other, but there were no dramatic moments – and I’m ever so attached to that idea and have experienced it a few times and wanted the experience for the youth.

Weirdly, I think I would move away from lectio in the future. It did not fit this group, and I think I needed to be more flexible with different reading formats and conversation points. When you’re open to lectio – discussion can be fantastic. So, perhaps having some discussion points in mind as we go through the text during the day and have lectio for only one session.

For the future then: more discussion during the day as part of the prayer sessions, and using lectio more infrequently as intimacy builds.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
This entry was posted in Church, Fitness, Practices of Faith and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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