By Carey NIeuwhof, Founding and Teaching Pastor
One of the greatest challenges people have (not just Christians … pretty much everybody) is how to hear from God.
What if you only hear silence? And even if you sense something, how do you know it’s actually God?
In the message this week, I outlined seven ways people hear from God, but chief among them is through scripture. Bottom line? Interpreting everything through the lens of scripture is the best way to be sure you’re hearing from God.
Great theory, you say. But you’ve tried reading the Bible and you’re not really sure how to hear God when you read it. And besides, sometimes it just feel like words on a page.
If you’ve been there, I’m so glad you’re reading this. This week, we’re challenging everyone to pick up an ancient practice that can help you hear from God in a very meaningful way.
This week, take some time daily or at least a few times in the next seven days to try an ancient practice called lectio divina, or Divine Reading. It’s been practiced by Christians for over 1000 years, and rather than just you reading scripture, it allows scripture to read you.
You will need a minimum of 10-15 minutes. Here’s a summary of lectio divina Carey shared in the message and as excerpted from this article.
Here are some suggested passages to get you started, and the lectio divina method below.
Step One: Read (Lectio)
Choose a passage, pray for God’s wisdom and insight, and slowly read it, letting it speak to you. Take the time to note every specific word. Think about the intentionality of the word ordering. Look for repetition, themes, pictures, and dialogue. Try to picture yourself inside the story. Stay alert for a single word, phrase, verse, metaphor, or message that catches your eye, stirs you, moves you or connects with you emotionally.
Step Two: Meditate on the passage (Meditatio)
Focus intently on why the Holy Spirit might have chosen these words to speak to you today. Reflect on how it might apply to your life. Is it relevant to something that you are going through? Does it bring to mind a struggle that you have been dealing with? Do certain people come to mind that God may want you to reach out to or reconcile a relationship with? Is there a strong sense of a movement or change that needs to happen? When you are thinking about a passage in God’s presence, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate that passage so that you can grasp the message in terms of your own life.
Biblical meditation (e.g., Genesis 24:63, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, 48:9, 77:3, 119:15, 143:5) is different than Eastern meditation. In Eastern meditation the objective is usually detachment and an empty mind. In biblical meditation the objective is attachment to God and sustained focus on his Word. Have you ever noticed your mind center on something? You have a thought, often unhelpful, that repeats over and over? In biblical meditation, train your thoughts to mull over whatever “is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).
Step Three: Pray (Oratio)
The next step is to take all the thoughts, feelings, actions, fears, convictions, and questions you have meditated on and offer them to the Lord in prayer. Praise God for who he is. If you feel convicted about a poor relationship, simply apologize, request forgiveness, and ask for guidance on restoring the relationship. If you feel thankful for something that God has done for you, then pour out those feelings of thanksgiving. If you feel a specific anxiety about something in your life, present it to the Lord and pray for the guidance and peace to be able to submit to God’s will.
Step Four: Contemplate (Contemplatio)
The “task” in this stage is to simply be silent in the presence of God (Psalm 46:10). This is one of the most essential aspects for building a growing relationship with the Lord. Many testify that at the end of a lectio divina session one has a feeling of closeness and intimacy with the Lord. One of the most valuable things that we can do with this feeling is to relax and embrace it. Just “be” with God. We don’t need to always be talking at God. In this stage we are to simply sit in the presence of God and feel His tender love and embrace. Remember, you are loved.
That’s it. Try this and see what happens as you engage God’s word in a quiet, contemplative way. Let his words read you. It’s a fresh, powerful and grounded way to hear from God.
If you have an experience of how this has worked for you, leave a comment below!
And join us for the final part of Invisible God next weekend at Connexus (April 29th) when we look at the purpose of prayer.