This post has been written as a part of ChicagoNow's "Blogapalooz-Hour: Volume XXXII." A flood of posts are going live tonight at 10 p.m. sharp from a number of ChicagoNow bloggers because a "Blogapalooz-Hour" is a blitz to publish a post in 60 minutes or less, so here is my response to the following prompt selected by ChicagoNow blog contributor Mahjabeen “Magic of Writing” Syed:
“Write about something you know now that you wish you knew then”
I grew up reading my YouthWalk Devotional Bible. I enjoyed the practical application of their daily devotionals, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a Bible for their teen. However, I often leaned on the "practical application" stories more than engaging the Scripture for myself. I eventually grew out of my teen Bible into my leather-bound HCSB translation, but I used to feel fearful of sitting down with the Bible all alone, in silence (what could God possibly have to say to me directly? yikes!)--until I learned about "Lectio divina" at Passion 2012 or Passion 2013. I took the "Lectio divina" lesson home with me from Atlanta, and my life and Bible time was changed forever.
Latin for "divine reading," Lectio Divina is a way of reading the Bible where you are silent for a while and listen to God to speak to you through His Word. I still remember one of the first times I experienced Lectio Divina--I chose to read the Gospel of John. The words of the Bible popped off the page for me like never before--it was like God was speaking directly to me, and the most shocking thing was, it wasn't scary at all! Instead, it was one of the most loving, wonderful things I've ever experienced. So I haven't stopped taking time to read the Bible in silence since.
Here are five steps that changed the way I read the Bible in "Lectio Divina" style (which happens to be a trend originally begun by Benedictine monks):
1) Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide your reading of the Bible / dedicate your time to God--specifically mention any problems or challenges you're currently going through here, especially those you may feel especially anxious about or that you'd like God's guidance in.
3) Meditatio: Meditate on what you are hearing from the Lord in those verses.
4) Oratio: Pray in response to what you've heard from God through the Bible verses.
5) Contemplatio: Here's where the practical application comes in: think about how what God has spoken to you may play out practically in your life, circumstances, or whatever challenge you may be going through.
I wish I had known about this practice much earlier in my life because I have spent a lot of hours worrying and trying to figure out answers to problems I thought may be the end of the world without first asking God to help me and surrendering my confusion to Him. It turns out that He's had all the answers I'd ever need in the Bible--all I have had to do all along is to sit in silence with Him. Go on, try it with me--God probably has some surprises in store for us!
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