I'm always looking for ways to improve practices in my life. I am ALL FOR changing if it means I can do something more easily, efficiently, expertly. (BTW how was that for some alliteration?!) A lot of times I garner new practices, techniques, from reading. So, when an idea presents itself that I'm not familiar with I like to read up on it. When I feel like I can improve the way I do something in my life I read up on the way other people do it... thats the genesis of this blog I suppose.
Someone asked me a while back about meditation... wanted to know if I meditated. I said something along the lines of 'not really'. The word meditate has always brought to my mind middle eastern practices for some reason. I have never associated meditation with Christianity... probably part of being raised baptist. haha. Now, I knew all about having a daily 'quiet time' as the good old baptists like to call it, but meditation wasn't a part of my thought process so much. (aside: I HATE the phrase 'quiet time'... when I spend time with people I love I'm notoriously loud... sometimes I want to yell or squeal or something. My quality time with Jesus isn't quiet at all...) Anyway, I looked up meditation and it was defined as follows:
verb [ intrans. ] think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
So yeah, I suppose I do meditate... blogging about my faith is a pretty good form of meditation... gotta think before you type. After I started thinking about the meditation thing, I decided to take it a step further. I started wondering about the most effective way to have 'quiet time' (is there a better term for that?! I shall here after refer to daily time with God as QUALITY time or QT). What ratio of meditation to reading to prayer to whatever else is most effective? How long should this process be lasting each day? How can I maximize my time to learn the most and apply what I learn the best? Of course I had to investigate all this... and I came across something in a devotion book that I found pretty interesting.. Lectio Divina.
Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or "holy reading," and represents a traditional Catholic practice of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to increase in the knowledge of God's Word. Basically, this is a way of praying with Scripture that calls you to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray within the soul.
OK OK.... I know some people are probably thinking that this is a little out there. Seriously though. This really makes sense. I am a creature of structure. Its MUCH easier for me to stick with something that has a pattern, structure, organization... and this is a GREAT way to organize Bible study... I admit that it sounds a little cheesy though...
Lectio Divina has been likened to "Feasting on the Word." The four parts are first taking a bite (Lectio), then chewing on it (Meditatio). Next is the opportunity to savor the essence of it (Oratio). Finally, the Word is digested and made a part of the body (Contemplatio).
This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively several times. Many write down words in the scripture that stick out to them or grasp their attention during this moment.
gravitating around the passage or one of its words, takes it and ruminates on it, thinking in God’s presence about the text. You benefit from the Holy Spirit’s guidance here. It is not a special revelation from God necessarily, but the inward working of the Holy Spirit that helps us grasp the revelation contained in Scripture.
prayer... we allow the word that we have taken in and on which we are pondering to touch and change our deepest selves. ...God invites us in lectio divina to hold up our most difficult and pain-filled experiences to Him, and to gently recite over them the healing word or phrase He has given us in our lectio and meditatio. In this oratio, this consecration-prayer, we allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God.
This moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God. In other words, it is a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in His presence....
So, basically depending on your education and spiritual strengths, this method helps you engage in Scripture in a way that most people don't ever actually get to... The expected outcome will be a deeper knowledge of scripture, oneself, others and God, and to see all these in gradually increasing light of faith. What's not to like, huh?