Lectio Divina using Isaac Pennington
by John Brady
Introduction (5 min):
Lectio Divina or Holy reading was developed by the Benedictine monastic order about 1500 years ago. It is a prayer discipline that includes devotional reading, meditation, prayer addressing God and contemplative prayer. Patricia Loring describes it as a natural, inward motion in prayer. It takes from about one hour to one and one half hour to do, depending on how much is included. It can be used as a small group exercise or done individually. It consists of the following elements:
1. Reading: This is our starting point for focusing our attention and intention in our inward movement toward God. We will start with a slow, meditative reading of a brief passage by Isaac Pennington.
2. Reflection: Meditative reflection on the passage.
3. Active Prayer: As you reflect on the passage, allow yourself to be drawn into active prayer to God. (Have card stock and crayons). This prayer can express itself in a number of ways: vocal, writing, song, movement, images etc.
4. Contemplative Prayer: This is the prayer in which we wait upon God’s word for us spoken in our minds or hearts.
5. Embodying: This part of the process is that in which we endeavor to embody in our lives the fruit of the new or renewed awareness, the intimations of guidance, the transformed or transforming heart or will – in our attitude and stance toward life and others. How has it changed us?
THE LECTIO DIVINA EXERCISE
1. One person will read the passage aloud once and then 3 others will read it aloud meditatively. (10 min)
2. Allow yourself to move into meditative reflection on the passage. (10 min) Here are some queries to consider in your meditation.
What causes the greatest resistance to you?
Be aware to your reactions to language and its implied theology
What resonates deeply within you?
Stay with what resonates and allow it to open out for you.
If it feels natural, journal your reflections
3. Be sensitive to what there is in your interaction with the text that calls for expression to God. (10 min)
Allow it to arise within you in whatever way is natural: verbally, feelings, in images, in whatever wants to come.
4. When you feel that your expression has run its course, move into an attitude of waiting, receptivity, inviting God to respond. (10 min)
Notice what arises within you, discerning its source.
Be aware that a response or full response will not necessarily arise in this particular time of prayer.
5. Be aware of whether any response is called for from you in return: either inwardly in further prayer, or outwardly in action as you move from prayer into outward activity. (10 min)
6. Make journal notes about the process, the experience and the fruit of this exercise. (10 min)
Were you drawn to one phase of the exercise more than another?
Was any one phase impossible for you today?
What do your responses suggest about appropriate spiritual practice/s for you at this time?
7. Worship sharing about the exercise. (25 mins)
An example of a reading from Isaac Pennington:
TO FRIENDS IN AMERSHAM
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall; and waiting till the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting. Oh! wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that ye may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly one with another. And then, ye will be a praise to the Lord; and any thing that is, or hath been, or may be, amiss, ye will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb’s dominion; and that which is contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. So watch your hearts and ways; and watch one over another, in that which is gentle and tender, and knows it can neither preserve itself, nor help another out of the snare; but the Lord must be waited upon, to do this in and for us all. So mind Truth, the service, enjoyment, and possession of it in your hearts; and so to walk, as ye may bring no disgrace upon it, but may be a good savor in the places where ye live, the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom ye converse.
Your Friend in the Truth, and a desirer of your welfare and prosperity therein.
Aylesbury, 4th of Third Month, 1667
See P. Loring Listening Spirituality, Vol. 1 p 111. The practice can be used with any short devotional reading such as a psalm.