Recently, I made my annual silent retreat: eight days of listening for God in nature and also of God meeting me in Scripture. Each day as I met with my spiritual director, she invited me to pray with new passages of Scripture. Scripture, yet again, became the Living Word of God for me as I listened to God’s voice through the written word.
I’m always surprised at which Scriptures I am drawn to on a silent retreat and which ones my spiritual director assigns me. This year, Elijah’s journey in 1 Kings 17—19 accompanied me for most of my retreat, reminding me, amongst many other things, of the gift of God’s daily bread.
People often ask me, “How do I come to know God’s voice in my life?” My response is, “Start reading and then praying with Scripture.” Scripture is often referred to as the Living Word. This explanation implies that it is indeed alive and not dead. One of the ways we experience God’s presence in our lives is coming to know God’s voice and the way God acts in our lives through reading the stories and words of Scripture.
Not only does reading Scripture help us understand the long salvation history of which we are uniquely a part, but it also offers us our daily bread. We are nourished by the Word of God whispered to us in the quiet of our hearts or proclaimed to us in our liturgies. The lines and phrases and stories of Scripture nourish our hearts and give us words to our own experiences of both joy and pain.
How do we listen, though?The long-trusted prayer method of lectio divina is our reliable tool when it comes to listening to God in Scripture. This prayer method slows us down in our reading of Scripture, so that we move from merely reading the words to letting them read our lives. Lectio moves reading of Scripture for study into praying Scripture, so that we are nourished with our daily bread from God.
Here are the four simple steps. For my video explanation of lectio divina, click here.
- Read. Pick any passage in Scripture. Slowly, thoughtfully, savor the Word. Linger whenever a word or phrase touches your heart.
- Reflect. What is God saying to you in this passage? Offering you? Asking you?
- Respond. Respond to God from your heart. Speak to God of your feelings and insights. Offer these to God.
- Rest. Sit quietly in God’s presence. Rest in God’s love.
If you have not tried lectio divina before, I invite you to give it a try. It will not only tune your ear for God’s voice in your life, but it will also help you listen for God’s Living Word in Scripture.