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Early on in my walk with God, I loved Bible studies that asked me to fill-in-the-blanks after reading certain commentaries and passages. They were instrumental in the construction of my faith, a building once with many rooms that are now converging into one open dwelling, free of walls and separate compartments now replaced with a sense of “oneness” that integrates all facets.
These studies are still important – don’t get me wrong.
But I’m all about “less is more” these days – I want to slow down, soak in the words, and listen to what God has for me and only me. Not my friends or my husband or my children – but for just me.
I run all day and I suspect you do as well. We have school pick-ups and doctor’s appointments and lunches to pack and ministry to do and relationships to maintain.
I was once addicted to busy because if I could just keep running and never be still, I didn’t really have to hear what He had to say and I could play the ignorance card. Accountability was non-existent if I claimed to not hear.
However, this eventually caught up with my soul. Weariness prevailed and out of weariness came non-Jesus-like behavior. Irritability. Sadness. Little grace given to others.
Last spring, I realized I had been running on a gerbil wheel at the expense of my family. I was “doing” so much ministry beyond the walls of my home that I could scarcely keep my head above water and often, I didn’t.
So I laid-down some of the responsibilities I once felt “called” to take-on and made a commitment to slow way down.
In this process of becoming, I began to really hear for the first time. I discovered that He speaks to us all day long – we just have to be present enough to discern His voice.
Three years ago, I attempted a study based on a book called Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton. I abandoned it after three weeks because at the time, the only sacred rhythms in my life were the every-two-hour feedings of an infant and the caring for two toddlers.
In Sacred Rhythms, Barton introduced me to a practice called “Lectio Davina” – a way of studying the scriptures that allowed me to stop and think about what I was reading and really listen to what God had for me within His words.
I desire intimacy with my Creator. I don’t want to check-off the box labelled “God” and “Bible reading” simply to just check the box.
I want to feel Him. Know Him. Hear Him.
I want Him to penetrate my heart so fiercely that I don’t have any choice but to decrease myself so that He may increase.
Two years ago, I wrote a bit about the practice of lectio davina, but let’s review a few things here today…
Lectio Davina means “sacred/holy reading.” It originated in the sixth century with St. Benedict and originally was simply a way for monks to meditate on God’s word. Though it’s origin is of Catholic descent, it’s a practice that applies to all denominations.
To begin, carve out 15-20 minutes of solitude. For me, it’s either first thing in the morning or after the kids go to bed – the important thing is to just find a time that you can still your soul. No, sitting in the carpool line doesn’t work. Trust me.
Here’s how it works:
1. Begin by asking the Holy Spirit to protect and lead you during your time with Him.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you let go of your own agenda and listen to God speaking to your heart through His Word.
3. The text is read four times. Each time, a question is asked:
First Reading: (Lectio) – Read the passage. What word or phrase stands out to me?
Second Reading: (Meditatio) – Read again. What in the text touches my life or relates to it in some way?
Third Reading: (Oratio) – Read again. What is God inviting me to do or be? How is He asking me to respond?
Fourth Reading: (Contemplatio) Read again and rest in God’s loving presence.
Now, let’s try it out with Isaiah 61:1-3 (New Living Translation) – we are going to move through this passage very slowly but it might be a good idea to read the entire chapter here.
Follow the four steps above while reading the following verses:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.
Before you journal what you want to remember (I suggest writing down what stands-out to you and what He might be asking you to “do” (third reading), it’s a good idea to just sit in His presence a bit and listen to what emerges in your mind.
If you want to dive deeper, I suggest reading several different translations of the same text. It’s amazing what can emerge simply by reading a passage a bit differently.
Tomorrow we will discuss more of Isaiah 61 – this will be our only week to have two sessions. After this week, our once-weekly sessions will only be posted on Mondays with discussion happening daily in our Facebook group. Should you feel led to join us, please send me a message at email@example.com.