Of all the meditative prayer practices we’ve discussed in the last few weeks, I thought Lectio Divina would be a natural fit for me. I love words. I love reading and finding meaning in words. I’m totally on board with praying regularly. I believe that God speaks to us through the Bible, and that the traditional prayer practices don’t just belong to more conservative/orthodox Christians. Praying the Psalms has transformed my prayer life and my interior world.
That said…Lectio Divina hasn’t worked for me yet. It’s very likely that I need to commit to several months of intentional practice to make it natural, where I’m not praying and analyzing at the same time. It feels very artificial when I try to do it. My son’s learning to adeptly tie his shoes. (In his defense, he knew how to tie them but didn’t like doing it, so he just triple knotted his sneakers and scuffed into and out of them, until we discovered he pronated terribly and tying his shoes tightly became rather imperative. There’s a metaphor in that, but I’m not going there today). It’s rather painful to watch his little fingers struggle with something I do without conscious thought. I’m in the same stage with Lectio Divina, and I wonder if God’s sitting on God’s hands to not just do it for me, dump an answer in my brain so we can end this painful exercise. So far the good-parent-God has resisted. (There’s a bonus God the Mother metaphor for you, too. You’re welcome.)
But the primary reason I want to get comfortable with a practice like Lectio Divinia is that we can’t think with what we don’t know. That’s a little saying I picked up in my first job out of college. I wrote job descriptions for an insurance company (terrifically dull work) and we used a system to analyze the content of the jobs in order to rank them internally and externally. Quick lesson: jobs are comprised of three sections: Know-How (education and experience), Problem-Solving (exactly what it sounds like), and Accountabilities (what the job should produce/do). Problem-Solving is a subset of Know-How, and the reason for this is that you can’t think (or solve problems) what you don’t know. I can’t build a bridge if I don’t know anything about structural integrity and metallurgy. I can’t know God’s character as experienced by my spiritual forebears if I’m not reading God’s word regularly, opening myself to it, praying over it. Practicing Lectio daily drops little morsels of the Bible into our brains, where our subconscious mind can chew it over, making God’s Word part of our daily lived experience, opening us further to God speaking in our lives.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t lots of other ways to take in God’s word – music, nature, sheer inspiration, and the like – but two thousand years of Christians have found answers in the Bible. I believe in the Classics just on principle.
It’s a good place to start. And start I will…eventually. 🙂