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Lectio divina, which literally means divine reading, is a process of formational reading that emphasizes a slow dwelling with the text. We can speak of it as containing four ways of being with the text. These are not steps and while they form a logical order they may happen in any order or simultaneously. Often Latin titles are used to label these four ways.

Lectio. This describes a slow and careful reading of the text and includes much of what we would label as study.

Meditatio. The meditation called for is meditation on the Scripture being read. It may involve savoring, repeating, thinking about, or digesting the words so that they become personally meaningful and nourish one spiritually.

Oratio. Here we pray the Scripture. We pray to God for understanding. We pray back to God the promises found, we use this reading to cry out to God or we listen for his voice in what we read.

Contemplatio. We rest in God’s presence through the Scripture.

Lectio divina is a “both-and” way of being with the text. We read carefully and analytically, but we also savor its beauty and its personal message. We sit quietly before God through the path prepared by reading, but we cry out in joy or anguish as we bring together our life, the world and the text. We zealously chew and ponder the text and we happily bathe in the text.

Wilhoit, James C., and Evan B. Howard. Discovering Lectio Divina: Bringing Scripture into Ordinary Life. IVP Books, 2012. Accessed January 8, 2013. 

You can read the Preface and First Chapter at Scribd. Here is the link.