You can expect a three-point outline jammed with historical insight, mined from biblical languages targeted at cultural context; all of it framed by a good joke at the beginning and an emotional poem at the end. It would be familiar, not because you’ve heard it before, but because this is how you’ve heard it done before. Bible preachers, teachers, and readers tend to approach the Bible solely as a source of information, looking for instructions or directions. We employ a Google methodology, hoping for instant answers. That’s what we do, but there’s another way.
For centuries the Church has practiced a discipline called Lectio Divina. The Latin phrase means “divine reading” and while the phrase may be new to you, it’s not owned by any particular denomination or generation. It refers to a manner of reading Scripture to saturate our souls - to transform as well as inform us. In his publication “Eat This Book” Eugene Peterson suggests Lectio Divina as a means to “rehydrate the Scriptures.” It is less about underlining words, connecting repeated phrases or jumping to the footnotes. It’s being attuned to the Voice of God. How? A few suggestions.
Take your time. The Bible isn’t just ink on a page, but a conduit of the Spirit. It is a living Voice of the Spirit. It is not ours to dissect, summarize, manage, or control. It presides over us. So we may benefit by reading smaller amounts and take more time to do it. Why? Because listening well requires space to sink in. I once asked Church Board members to sit with the same Psalm daily for a week. The raised eyebrows of suspicion became smiles of appreciation as they reported new depths with God and His Word.
Consider afresh what it is you want from the Scriptures. If it is information, history, answers, commands or principles, the Bible is plump with all of that. But our quest is not just for data, but for God. Jesus once chided Pharisees for searching the Scriptures for their personal benefit and ignoring Him in their reading. (Jn.5:39) How can we read the love letters but neglect the Beloved?
Submit to the sound or the silence of His Voice. God speaks, but He is not verbose. There is much He says but much more He doesn’t say. I have questions that God chooses to ignore. There is information I’m convinced I need but am denied. God speaks by His wisdom and will. We have to allow for mystery. We listen for God, not demanding that He speak, or becoming cynical through the silence. We wait for God to speak knowing that whatever He gives is just what we need - even if it is silence.
Lectio Divina may be a new label, but it simply describes a disposition before God and the Scriptures. What disposition? Take your time. Listen with your heart. Open your whole life. Accept the mystery. Wait in faith. God is speaking