Some will tell you that meditating upon scripture and the study of scripture are different disciplines. While that may be true to a certain extent, I like to think of study as anything where you pull out your Bible, open it up, and begin to read. The way I see it, if you’re spending time in the Word, you are practicing the spiritual discipline of study.
One of my favorite ways to study scripture is by using an ancient meditative technique called Lectio Divina. I first learned this technique while I was in college, and it is one that I have gone back to over and over again. I find it particularly helpful when I feel a deep desire to spend time in the Word but I don’t know where to start. This technique has become so important to my life of discernment. It allows me to really accept Scripture as it is written and ponder what God is telling me through those words.
There are lots of resources out there on this ancient practice, but here’s what I have found most helpful:
- To begin, choose a scripture passage that you wish to meditate on. It may be a single event or a parable or just a few verses or even just a single word. Read the passage slowly and attentively. As you read, let all your senses become active. What sounds do you associate with that passage? What does your imagination picture is happening? Are there any tastes that come to mind? What items do you feel?
- After some time of silent reflection, read the passage a second time. I sometimes find it helpful to read it out loud, and a little bit slower. Try to clear out any prior judgments or associations that you have with the passage. Focus solely on what it may be saying to you today. What words stick out to you or grasp your attention as you read it this second time? Feel free to write them down.
- Take just that word or words that stuck out to you and slowly repeat them to yourself. Think about God’s presence in the text. Don’t be afraid of inner distractions – they may be God working within you.
- Spend some time speaking to God. Tell God what’s on your mind. What has come to you as you spent time with the passage? I like to write my thoughts down, but you could also speak them out loud. Use whatever technique is most comfortable to you for talking to God.
- And finally, spend some time just resting in God’s presence. Simply enjoy being surrounded by God and focus on just how much God loves you.