Guide to Lectio Divina
Prayer can often feel intimidating or impersonal. But no matter what form of prayer you use, it is a way to build your relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Particular forms of prayer (Lectio Divina, the Rosary, simple conversation, eucharistic adoration, etc.) are meant to engage your heart and lift it up to the Lord. Honesty and consistency in acknowledging the thoughts, feelings and desires in your heart; relating them to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; receiving from God light, love, and understanding; and responding to the personal experience of His love will be the hallmarks of a real and growing intimacy in prayer.
Lectio Divina, Latin for “divine reading,” is a traditional, monastic way to read Scripture that focuses on meditation on the passage, not just simple reading.
Preparation pointers for Lectio Divina
Place - Find a quiet time and place. It helps when this can be consistent.
Posture - Be relaxed and comfortable, but not in a posture conducive to sleep.
Passage - Choose a passage from Scripture before you begin.
Prayer - Begin with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to lead your prayer.
Simple Steps for Lectio Divina
Let these four steps weave in and out of your time of reading. They may not follow in direct sequence. The Holy Spirit is the teacher of your prayer.
Lectio (Read) – Read a passage slowly. Pause when you feel your attention drawn to a word, phrase or thought.
Meditatio (Acknowledge) – Ponder this passage and what it means for you. Use your imagination and engage your spiritual senses! Pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and desires that accompany the detail that has arrested your attention. What truth strikes you from the passage? What jumps out at you? How does that truth impact your life? What does it say to you? Notice any images that come to mind, or any memories the passage stirs. Pay attention to what arrests your attention.
Oratio (Prayer) – Talk with God about the passage and your reflection. What thoughts, feelings, and desires stir in your heart as you focus on what has arrested your attention? Share these thoughts, feelings, and desires with Jesus and with the Father. What do you want to say to God? Do questions arise in your heart? Ask them of God. What are you drawn to? What bothers you? Tell God all about it. Use direct address, be honest, don’t filter your thoughts.
Contemplatio (Receive) – When moved by God, rest in His quiet presence; surrender to grace. Where does your heart rest? If you experience His love, if there is a movement of peace, joy, or gratitude, let yourself rest there. Is there clarity, wonder, or amazement? Let it soak in. Be still, be quiet, savor God with you in His word. Make clear that this moment (contemplatio) is a gift to be received. When ready, return to your reading.
Steps of the WRAP method of Lectio Divina
Begin with a prayer to the Holy Spirit that God’s holy word may come alive for you and speak to your heart.
1. W stands for Write: As you read and re-read the passage, write down the verse or verses from the passage that grab your attention, inspire you, bother you, or speak to your heart. (Lectio)
2. R stands for Reflect: What truth is God showing you in the verse or word that you have written down? What is the principle or idea being communicated? What is God saying to you through this word? It can also be helpful to imagine the scene described in the passage, reflecting on what feelings or desires it may have evoked in people mentioned. Consider how you are moved by what is said or done by the people in the passage. (Meditatio)
3. A stands for Apply: Respond to this word in a concrete and specific way. Let the Lord inspire you to see how this word speaks into your life and circumstances in a way that makes a difference. How can you apply this message, beginning today? (Meditatio)
4. P stands for Pray, Praise, and Pause: Write a prayer to God, telling him of what you have experienced in this time with His word — your thoughts, your feelings, your desires, your questions, and any memories that were stirred up. Pray the verses back to God in your own words. Try to pray from your heart about what the verses opened in your mind, your emotions, and your life. Write words of praise and thanks to God for His goodness, love, and beauty, and the particular light and blessings you have received in this time. (Oratio) When you are done writing, pause and rest in His presence; let Him love you; receive His grace and strength. (Contemplatio)
30 Days of WRAP passages
1. Annunciation: Luke 1:26-38
2. Visitation: Luke 1:39-56
3. Nativity: Luke 2:1-20
4. Baptism: Mark 1:1-11
5. Good Shepherd: John 10:1-18
6. Washing of the Feet: John 13:1-15
7. Vine and the Branches: John 15:1-13
8. Jesus’ Prayer: John 17:20-26
9. Temptation of Jesus: Matthew 4:1-11
10. Daughter of Jairus, Woman with a Hemorrhage: Mark 5:21-43
11. Healing of the Paralytic: Mark 2:1-12
12. Woman at the Well: John 4:1-26
13. Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32
14. Call of Simon: Luke 5:1-11
15. Parable of Forgiveness: Matthew 18:21-35
16. Fulfilled in your Hearing: Luke 4:14-22
17. Walking on the Water: Matthew 14:22-33
18. Have No Anxiety: Matthew 6:25-32
19. Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-12
20. Our Father: Luke 11:1-13
21. Rich Young Man: Matthew 19:16-30
22. Bread from Heaven: John 6:32-59
23. Transfiguration: Luke 9:28-36
24. The Sinful Woman: Luke 7:36-50
25. The Agony in the Garden: Matthew 26:36-56
26. The Crucifixion: Luke 23:33-43
27. Road to Emmaus: Luke 24: 13-33
28. Mary Magdalene: John 20:11-18
29. The Seven Disciples: John 21:1-19
30. Thomas: John 20:19-31
Gratitude in prayer is important! It will focus your heart on the lived experience of God and facilitate a fruitful resting as you pause.
This method of learning Lectio Divina helps us to be focused and concrete during prayer, while at the same time acknowledging our thoughts, feelings, and desires and relating them honestly to God. We receive the felt experience of God’s presence, power and love, and respond in a concrete way sustained by the grace we receive. These are key habits to help us grow in real intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.