Richard Foster on lectio divina, “reading [scripture] for formation”

It is in meditation upon Scripture where we find the “sanctified imagination” used most frequently. Indeed, this way of approaching the sacred text has a long and time-honored history among the people of God. It even has a special name: lectio divina, “divine reading” or “spiritual reading.”

What does lectio divina mean? Well, it means listening to the text of Scripture—really listening, listening yielded and still. It means submitting to the text of Scripture, allowing its message to flow into us rather than attempting to master it. It means reflecting on the text of Scripture, allowing both mind and heart to be fully engaged in the meaning of the passage. It means praying the text of Scripture, letting the biblical reality give rise to our heart cry of gratitude, confession, lament and petition. It means applying the text of Scripture,  seeing how God’s Holy Word provides a personal word for our life circumstances. It means obeying the text of Scripture, turning, always turning away from our human* ways and into the way everlasting.

Most of all lectio divina  means seeing the text of Scripture, engaging the sanctified imagination in the full drama of God’s Word….

Lectio divina is a meditative, spiritual reading in which both the mind and the heart are drawn into the love of God….

We are told that after all the enormous events surrounding Jesus’ birth “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). In lectio we are learning to do the same….

With lectio…[we] seek to be initiated into the reality of which the passage speaks.

Richard Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer, 40,41,42.

* I take this primarily to mean fallen humanity, fallen from the ideals, goal and purpose of God, but restored in the God-Human, Jesus.

prayer for the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Grant us, Lord, not to anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things which are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer