For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by our steadfast and patient endurance and the encouragement drawn from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.
– Romans 15.4
The practice of Sacred Reading has been a part of our Christian heritage for nearly as long as it’s existed. Saint Benedict formalized it as “lectio divina,” which just means divine (or sacred) reading. It is a powerful approach to sharpening the “ear of our hearts” to the gentle whisper of God’s voice in our lives.
Our aim is to listen for God's gentle whisper with the attention of our whole heart, mind, soul, and body. As we practice and exercise this kind of receptivity with Scripture, it strengthens our ability to be open to God's love and presence throughout our day; in conversations, during busyness, while waiting, waking, or falling asleep.
Sacred Reading takes us through 4 motions:
R E A D – With a listening in your heart, internally hear the words you are reading. Read as though you are getting to know the Author, rather than just taking in information. Give the words your entire attention. If you’re finding it difficult to keep your mind focused, don’t worry, that’s the point. We’re opening our lives to being transformed by the Word, which indicates there being something needing transformation! Just keep reading the text until you get a grasp on what is being read. Be gracious and patient with yourself. Once focused, pay special attention to any word or phrase that significantly stands out to you.
R E F L E C T – Relish that word or phrase that resonates, within you. God is speaking. You’re making room in your life and mind to hear this gentle whisper. Repeat the word or phrase for a moment before reading the passage again. Rather than immediately reducing it in analysis or dissection, focus your attention on being fully receptive to the inspiration. Remain openhearted to God’s gentle whisper as you return to the passage.
R E S P O N D – Allow God’s impression within you to become an internal or written prayer. Keep your words and heart simple. Jesus clearly stated, “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words. Don’t ... because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” So, you are relieved of having to articulate everything. God knows. God is with you in the very depths of your heart, and beyond. Pray. Simply. Humbly. Lovingly.
R E S T – God has spoken and been heard. You’ve prayed and been heard. Now rest in simply being with God. Spend a number of minutes in the practice of being as present to God as God is to you. These times with God completely transform and reshape our lives and way of living and responding. Be with God as God is with you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the person of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3.16/17