Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lectio Divina

by Dina Sleiman

As many of you know, I’ve recently become a part-time acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing. Probably the coolest unexpected perk has been the opportunity to peek at amazing books long before the general public will see them. I found one that especially ministered to me on a very personal level and helped me to grow in my faith.

This book is a narrative style non-fiction. The writing is lovely and the stories of women poignant. But more than that, the writer herself knew how to tap into God for healing and strength. I can't promise that WhiteFire will publish it. All I can say is I hope they do. Even if they don't, I'm incredibly grateful that God brought this blessing into my life.

A few weeks ago in my post titled “With Unveiled Faces” I passed along this premise: we are all spiritually wired, but we are also spiritually challenged. We have spiritual eyes, and ears, and feelings, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t trust them. They often get crowded out by our physical senses. And this is probably most true in the Western culture. Think about it. Why are there more miracles in third world countries? Is it simply because they need them more? Or might it be that without our Western logic and education, they are more open to mystery and wonder?

I find it helpful to go back before our current culture to traditions used by ancient Hebrews and medieval Christians to learn how to tap into our spiritual wiring. To use our spiritual senses. To discover the divine.

The unpublished book I had the pleasure of reading focused on one specific technique called lectio divina. According to Wikipedia, “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. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray and even sing and rejoice from God's Word, within the soul.”

In lectio divina, you don’t rush through scripture trying to meet your quota of chapters for the day. You relish it. You dwell on it. You read until you find that one word that really sparks something in you. That word that lights up, full of life. Then you pray about that word throughout the day. Meditate on it. Mull it over. Ask God to speak to you his truth about how this simple word or phrase should impact your life. In Hebrew the term is a rhema word.

Which means, really it’s just another method for finding intimacy with Christ. For awakening those inner senses and hearing from God. Because what good are lifeless words on a page without the Holy Spirit to help us rightly understand and divide the word of God. Without God’s direction and inspiration, we all know, people can read nothing more than their own prejudices and presuppositions into the Bible.

Lectio divina is only one of many techniques for tapping into God’s kingdom that dwells within you. In the coming weeks I hope to cover many more. But maybe, just maybe, this will be the one to spark you and bring your spiritual senses alive in a new way. If you’ve struggled with your quiet time, why not give it a try. Read just a few verses, and allow God to speak his rhema word to your heart.

Let me end with a quick little poem I wrote years ago on this topic.

 I am giddy with the words of God
 that flow like amber wine.
They are honey sweet, delicately spiced,

each one a world to itself,
alive and teeming, sparks flying,
glimmering in multi-faceted rays,

a rainbow of truth to touch each heart
with the idyllic shade of light.
Otherwise, too bright, white hot,

like gazing into the sun.

What scripture or specific word has stood out to you recently? What techniques have you found that enrich your quiet times with God? How do you tap into your spiritual senses?

 Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion, will release with Whitefire Publishing in 2011. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at


  1. I'm a new follower to this blog, it's been a real blessing to have two loves of mine, writing and Christianity meet in a blog :)

    This Lectio Divina is such a great idea. I'm in a bit of a stale mate with my Bible reading at the moment, probably due to trying to rush through my quota of chapters! I am looking forward to trying this technique out.

  2. That's so awesome, Laura. Isn't it cool the way God draws us to just the right thing at just the right time.

    And welcome to the Inkwell. We're so happy to have you :)

  3. Wow, Dina! This is really amazing, as is your poem. You know, so often, I feel a longing in my soul -one I don't understand- for the simple life and culture of the Israelites. I know there were times they didn't trust God (like us); I know there were times they didn't follow the law (like us); but the miracles they saw, the culture they adhered to, the ones who walked with or encountered Jesus...I would have liked to have been there.

    I wonder if this method of reading scripture will help fill this longing of mine?

  4. Who knows, Suzie? I'm not one to offer quick fixes and simple answers, but this could open up something new for you. In upcoming posts I'll be sharing about some other concepts that might help as well.

  5. I'm looking forward to those upcoming posts, Dina.

  6. Welcome, Elizabeth!

    I've been reading a book called ... well, something about the other half of the Gospel. Upon our salvation, our spirits were united with God's Spirit. The problem is we still see ourselves on the temporal realm: this earthsuit we're in. God sees us in the eternal realm: pure, righteous, complete. Since we're still seeing ourselves temporally, we struggle with sin. We listen to our thoughts and our feelings.

    But God desires for us to live with our eyes on the eternal realm.

    We need to listen for God's Spirit in communication with our Spirit.

    I was stuggling with something on Tuesday. My thoughts and feeling bombarded me, so it became a battle to tune them out and hear God. Even after I heard God tell me "don't go," the battle resumed becuase I didn't like the answer so I didn't want to believe that's what God was telling me to do. My thoughts and feelings said, "go go go."

    Later I talked to Hubby. He asked me if I was going to go talk to someone, and I said God told me not to. Doesn't make sense to me. But if I'm going to say I trust God, then I ought to trust Him, right?

    Lately I've been focusing on "I've been crucified with Christ. It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me."

    Great post, Dina!!!

  7. Thanks, Gina. And thanks for your great insights as well. All so true.

  8. You got me pegged with the quick read devotional. I needed the reminder. I haven't had a specific word stand out, but my life's been rushing past so fast lately, it's probably because I haven't stopped long enough to listen for it.

    As for scripture, it's the same one as always and that's simply to trust Him.

    Thanks, Dina.

    Anita Mae.

  9. Whether or not Lectio Divina is the thing for you, you can never go wrong with slowing down and listening more.

    I'm definitely not into the little devotionals with a scripture and a story. Nor reading chapters at a time. For my quiet time I do a lot of listening.

  10. My MIL and FIL started a network of house churches (we hosted one for about a year) and on many Sundays, we do Lectio Divina as a group. I have never heard anyone else talk about it. How cool!

  11. Always knew you were cool, Bex ;)

  12. Interesting post, Dina. It brought to mind a scripture, and I had to look it up.

    Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart:
    Jer 15:16a

    When we eat something, we bite it, masticate, swallow, and digest, and then it becomes part of us. A very different process than simply scanning words on a page. Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Wow, that's a great scripture. Thanks, Barb. The ancient Hebrews definitely understood how to treat God's word.

  14. Thanks Dina and everyone. This reminds me that my one word ( the word I chose to be my guiding word for the year) hasnt worked out yet and it's almost June. I'm always in a hurry to complete something. Funny that Barb mentions eating as an example of taking in God's word because I even eat in a hurry so I can get more done. I long for a way to linger and listen.


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