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Monday, June 6, 2011

Divine Reading

As many of you know, I’ve recently become a part-time acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing. Probably the coolest unexpected perk has been the opportunity to peek at amazing books long before the general public will see them. I found one that especially ministered to me on a very personal level and helped me to grow in my faith.

This book is a narrative style non-fiction. The writing is lovely and the stories of women poignant. But more than that, the writer herself knew how to tap into God for healing and strength. I can't promise that WhiteFire will publish it. All I can say is I hope they do. Even if they don't, I'm incredibly grateful that God brought this blessing into my life.

A few weeks ago in my post titled “With Unveiled Faces” I passed along this premise: we are all spiritually wired, but we are also spiritually challenged. We have spiritual eyes, and ears, and feelings, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t trust them. They often get crowded out by our physical senses. And this is probably most true in the Western culture. Think about it. Why are there more miracles in third world countries? Is it simply because they need them more? Or might it be that without our Western logic and education, they are more open to mystery and wonder?

I find it helpful to go back before our current culture to traditions used by ancient Hebrews and medieval Christians to learn how to tap into our spiritual wiring. To use our spiritual senses. To discover the divine.

The unpublished book I had the pleasure of reading focused on one specific technique called lectio divina. According to Wikipedia, “Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or 'holy reading,' and represents a traditional Catholic practice of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to increase in the knowledge of God's Word. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray and even sing and rejoice from God's Word, within the soul.”

In lectio divina, you don’t rush through scripture trying to meet your quota of chapters for the day. You relish it. You dwell on it. You read until you find that one word that really sparks something in you. That word that lights up, full of life. Then you pray about that word throughout the day. Meditate on it. Mull it over. Ask God to speak to you his truth about how this simple word or phrase should impact your life. In Hebrew the term is a rhema word.

Which means, really it’s just another method for finding intimacy with Christ. For awakening those inner senses and hearing from God. Because what good are lifeless words on a page without the Holy Spirit to help us rightly understand and divide the word of God. Without God’s direction and inspiration, we all know, people can read nothing more than their own prejudices and presuppositions into the Bible.

Lectio divina is only one of many techniques for tapping into God’s kingdom that dwells within you. In the coming weeks I hope to cover many more. But maybe, just maybe, this will be the one to spark you and bring your spiritual senses alive in a new way. If you’ve struggled with your quiet time, why not give it a try. Read just a few verses, and allow God to speak his rhema word to your heart.

Let me end with a quick little poem I wrote years ago on this topic.

 I am giddy with the words of God
 that flow like amber wine.
They are honey sweet, delicately spiced,

each one a world to itself,
alive and teeming, sparks flying,
glimmering in multi-faceted rays,

a rainbow of truth to touch each heart
with the idyllic shade of light.
Otherwise, too bright, white hot,

like gazing into the sun.

What scripture or specific word has stood out to you recently? What techniques have you found that enrich your quiet times with God? How do you tap into your spiritual senses?


  1. All good points! Over the last several months I have tried to just be still and hear. In January I asked god to give me a word for the year. He gave me two - hear and prepare. I want to reach the point where I can hear. I think we need to get back to hearing what God is telling his people.

  2. Hi Jan, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Hear and prepare. Very good words.

  3. My husband is starting the Diaconate this fall (and I am going to get my Master's in Theology with him!) One of the things we will be doing is praying the Lectio Divina regularly. I'm excited to be sharing the journey with him. Recently I started a book called The Cloud of Unknowing. Have you heard of it? It was written by an anonymous monk in the 14th century. It is the best book (a "spiritual guide") on meditative prayer that I have ever read.

  4. Very cool. I haven't heard of the book, but I should check it out. I recently read 100 Days in the Secret Place with writings by Guyon, Fenelon, and Melinos.