Lectio Divina and Prayer

The distinction between prayer and lectio is not clear cut, on the other hand the distinction between lectio and study is; since the aim of study is often a degree while the aim of lectio is always worship. Lectio is to be done with the heart rather than with the head for the words of the Lord are spirit and life. As the Our Father is taken directly from the gospel of Saint Mathew (6:9-11), every time we hear it or say it we are in a way doing lectio divina as well as praying.

As in prayer a reverent approach is essential for lectio. It should be begun with the Sign of the Cross. Reverence for the Word should be shown even to the written word. At solemn Masses the Gospel book is accompanied by lights and incense and is kissed by the Deacon who prays after proclaiming the Gospel: ‘By the words of the Gospel may my sins be blotted out.’ And the people acclaim, ‘Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ,’ for he is present in his Word. A renowned biblical scholar used say he would not place his Bible where he would not place a chalice and certainly few would advocate a plastic cup for offering Mass.

Curiosity has always been a professional hazard of the reader as it is the intention more than anything else that makes reading lectio. To ensure a pure intention in the Cistercian tradition monastics were encouraged to begin their lectio on their knees. Worship should be the natural outcome of lectio. To kneel at the conclusion of the exercise is also a very wholesome custom for in Scripture, especially in the writings of Saint John encountering Christ nearly always leads to adoration.