Listening in the Light of God
The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth. (Psalm 50:1-2)
One of the spiritual practices I use in my devotional time is Lectio Divina (holy reading). There are variations of how this can be used. I will describe one I use most often and invite you to engage in this practice today. If you choose, you are welcome to use a journal or paper to write your thoughts, or if you prefer, you can speak out loud or think your way through the practice. This is a time of listening and meditation. If you practice this regularly, you will find times of great inspiration and meaning while other times may feel dry or meaningless. You can do this alone or you can do this with another person (or even in a small group).
First, find a quiet place to sit where you will not be interrupted for around twenty minutes. You may sit cross-legged on the floor or cushion or sit in a chair with both feet on the floor. Your hands can be rested on your knees or in your lap – whatever is most comfortable. In the quiet place, now take time to quiet yourself. Breathe in deeply and then breathe out. Do this consciously several times, breathing in the Spirit and breathing out your distractions and thoughts. Offer yourself to God’s Spirit, God’s enlightenment, God’s inspiration, in a brief prayer of thanksgiving.
Reading one (use the scripture passage above or choose a different one): When you are relaxed, read through the scripture (out loud if possible). As you read slowly and contemplatively, listen to the words. Don’t analyze the scripture or think about what it means. Instead, just listen to the words and sentences. When you are done, in a minute or two of silence, ask yourself the question, “What one word or phrase stands out for me? What word or phrase “shimmers” into my awareness?” When that word or phrase arises for you, write it down, or speak it aloud.
Reading two: Now, gently, slowly, read the scripture a second time. Again, no analysis or thinking about its meaning. Just listen to the words. Take a minute or two of silence. This time ask the question, “What theme or message do I hear from this passage?” The message may directly relate to the scripture, or it may seem to come from somewhere else. Just be present to what message emerges for you. Write it down in a sentence or two or speak it aloud.
Reading three: Return to your quiet center and read the scripture through again. This time, in your minute or two of silent contemplation of the scripture, ask it, “What action does this scripture invite me to take, or what attention does this scripture bring to my day?” You are welcome to write what appears to you from this time of silence in response to these questions. This time, you can write for a longer time as you explore the message(s) you received from the scripture.
When you are through, take a moment to thank God in prayer for the time and inspiration you have received through the time you have spent together in this time of Lectio Divina. You are welcome to sit in silent meditation or end with a prayer.
Holy God, shine your light into our lives through your holy word as we listen for the insight and inspiration you have for us today. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.