2019 Chapel Service

Irwindale Speedway

March 30, 2019

“Lectio Divina”

Bob Butcher

Well, I said that I would bring you some tools this year to try out in your life and hopefully find them helpful in your walk with the Lord.  May they bring your personal relationship into a deeper communication time that becomes wonderful and exciting.

Maybe a good way to look at this is sort of like it’s going to be a Boot Camp.  It may challenge you, and It will take your commitment to actually do these things consistently and learn them, but I know it will be well worth it in the end and I expect that your time communicating with our Creator will certainly be enhanced.  I know out of experience that He absolutely multiplies His blessings when we go just a bit deeper even in the slightest way.

This first new “tool” is not new as it has been around since the early church days and the Benedictine Monks used it to a huge advantage.

It’s called a weird name to me in Latin, (Lectio Divina), but so what!  The whole deal is simply praying with Scripture and learning to talk with Him and listen to His personal response to you and reveal some insight. It’s time together and pretty amazing.

I’ve found it helpful to follow the stages in order. Like learning an instrument or how to use a new tool, once we’ve learned the basics, we’ll be able to improvise! Here’s how to get started:

Prepare:  I’d suggest you plan 30 minutes to read, reflect, and respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in Lectio Divina. To tune in, many people like to light a candle, not because it’s necessary, but because the flame and fragrance serve as gentle reminders when collecting one’s thoughts and calming your mind. I pray a prayer of invitation, asking something simple like, “Lord, Help me hear from you,” and then spend a few moments sitting relaxed and quiet your mind so it can be open and focused to hear from God.

Lectio (or in other words, Read):  Your first time reading is an opportunity to get to know the scripture passage. Listen carefully for any words or phrases that seem to jump out, or maybe if you are a visual person it may even become bold type and sorta jump off the page. It’s important not to force things, but instead wait patiently for God to give gentle guidance. Last week while doing Psalms 23 and I got to verse 2 “He leads me to peaceful and refreshing waters…” I felt my mind drawn to the love I have for flat water canoeing with Kathy and my daughters even though it has been years now since our last time canoeing. 

I was struck by the image of God leading His people by the hand as an act of love – we’re not left to our momentous life journey alone.

Meditatio (in English, Reflect):  The second reading of the same passage of the day focuses further on the points I became aware of during the first reading. Often, I’ll  re-read it again or even twice slowly, and focus upon the words or verses that stuck out to me, so I can reflect carefully on where God has nudged me.

Then I’ll reflect on what I believe God is saying. Note: I try not to analyze the passage. It’s easy to slip into “study mode” and think about interesting points rather than listening to what God might be saying. It helps to stop and ask God to make His focus clear.  In my Psalms 23 area of the water and canoeing He showed me canoeing flat, peaceful water is like the good times and joys of life.  But there is also the canoeing fast rivers and the difficulty paddling upstream plus the wild rapids that reflects the storms of life that come.

Oratio (Or in English, Respond):  After a third or even a fourth reading, it’s time to respond to the Lord. I often like to record my thoughts by journaling because I know I’m very prone to forgetting what I’ve learned, even by the next day …especially at my age these days!  However, it’s even better yet when we learn to verbally respond vocally in prayer too, which gives us the opportunity for a conversation with God.

When reading Psalms 23, I journaled my wonderings. If God is so powerfully committed to leading and walking alongside me   through each of these kinds of life’s waters, why do I sometimes lack the commitment to stay close to God? Often the events of the day crowd in, and I just don’t always make time to listen to God. I prayed that God would help me to prioritize spending time with Him.

Contemplatio (and again in English it means Rest):  After the final reading, I spend around 10 minutes in silent contemplation. This isn’t a time of prayer or meditation — I just sit quietly and allow God to work. Often, we go back and forth in conversation.  And, sometimes He does all the talking and I do all the listening!  When my mind starts to wander and dart here and there, I have to bring it gently back to stillness again.  DON”T be around any clock either.  If you are locked into a set time, then set a timer to go off.  And remember to say, “Thank You Lord for loving me so much to take time with me.”

When we practice Lectio Divina, we can imagine we’re actually involved in the events of scripture — for example, hearing God’s words to King Davis as He sought peace. It’s an intensely personal experience. And, it’s important to remember that Lectio Divina is not an end in itself or another spiritual practice to tick off our to-do list. It helps us hear specifically and individually from God through scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit, and deepens our relationship with Him. May this be a refreshing way to enjoy your faith in God.  And if you want some fun try this with your personal favorite scriptures and see what He has to say!  Or, how about the scripture we read in Las Vegas?  That will be a dilly to contemplate and hear what He has to say.  Here it is:

Ephesians 3: 16-19  “I pray that out of His glorious, unlimited resources that He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love  you may be able to comprehend with all the Lord’s Holy saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love for you, and then, because of this knowledge, may you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”    (GBB)