One of my spiritual practices for this year is reading through the Bible in the form of The Message//Remix by Eugene H. Peterson.
I don’t know how many people besides me actually read through the intro section of their Bible (less than 1% is one guesstimate), but in this case I found it quite helpful since it describes the steps of lectio divina in plain English: “Read. Think. Pray. Live.”
Somehow it sounds less complicated than it does in Latin.
Read: “By jumping into the Bible, you open your eyes to God’s world and see how he includes you in his story.”
Think: “This is the five-star meal that you savor—with your mind, your heart, and your soul.”
Pray: “Allow this to be a time in which God speaks to you and you actively seek him.”
Live: “When you live the Word, you truly live.”
In my reading of The Message//Remix, I don’t always practice lectio divina—sometimes I read for the broad sweep of Scripture (e.g., Genesis, Exodus), sometimes I read for the beauty of the language (e.g., the Psalms, as in Psalm 51:10: “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life”—isn’t that a wonderful way of putting it?).
But sometimes I practice lectio divina in plain English. The other day as I read Psalm 72, I was especially drawn to the last verse: “All earth brims with [God’s] glory. Yes and Yes and Yes.” It made me think about the morning sunshine as I had been out in the garden even before I sat down to read. What a great God who created the sunshine, the heather in full bloom, the rhododendron buds swelling but not yet ready to unfold their brilliant red. I felt moved to pray and praise God, and when I read this text I wondered, what will be my Yes to God today? How will I live out my yes and yes and yes?
The intro to The Message//Remix says:
In lectio divina, reading, thinking, and praying come together within us, become part of us, and are lived out even beyond our awareness—like the way a baseball player swings a bat or catches a ball or the way a violinist performs a concerto. Over time, soaking in God’s word leads to our living out those words without even thinking about them.
I stumble over that last part—“without even thinking about them.” I agree that there is something about Scripture that is formative, that God changes me as I read, but does it actually happen “without even thinking”? Perhaps it’s rather “beyond my thinking” or “even more than my thinking”?
However God is at work, I receive it with a grateful yes and yes and yes.
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4 thoughts on “Lectio Divina in Plain English”
In the past I’ve used the Message with youth, as a way of doing lectio “in plain English,” as you mention, April. I still like the Read, Think, Pray, Live instructions-helps to introduce this great practice to adults too.
Yes, I love this practice for all ages, and the (simplified) four steps seem to connect so well!