Why Do I Practice Sacred Reading?

The LORD God therefore banished him from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the Garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:23-24

I just re read The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Painter. Within each chapter she invites the reader to pray lectio divina on a scripture passage. I pulled the above scripture from chapter 1 within this book, The Practice of Hearing The Call And Responding.

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In case you are not familiar with lectio divina or sacred reading, let me briefly share how I practice it:

  • Find a comfortable position where you can remain alert and yet also relax your body. Read the selected scripture once or twice slowly. What words or phrases shimmer: draw and capture your attention?
  • Read the scripture slowly again and allow these words and phrases that shimmered to speak to you. What are they trying to tell you? What is the Divine’s message or invitation for you at just this very moment? Ruminate on this within your mind.
  • Move into a space of resting in God for a few minutes.
  • Bring yourself to the present. You may wish to journal the message that God revealed to you. I also like to place these messages on paper so I can go back and refer to them again. Many of my messages have contained future actions that God has birthed within me.

Now, let me share an example from my reading of the above short passage:

I sit comfortably in my bed and read the above passage.

What words shimmer:

Banished – send someone away for punishment
Expelled – deprive someone of membership
Guard– watch over to protect or control
Till – break up the soil

What is God telling me?

I cannot go back in time. That door has closed. I have been expelled from the past. This is not a punishment but I punish myself when I stew over things not done. These are things that bother me.

I wish I had spent more time with my children or wife yesterday. I should have volunteered for that assignment at work instead of being afraid to try something new. In general, I need to stop being afraid to try and do new things. This includes meeting new people. God is with me each step. Why do I sometimes forget this?

I need to be more present when I am with people, while reading a book or watching a movie. When I take a walk with the dog and family I need to enjoy and relish their presence and at the same time bask in the sights, sounds, smells,  textures that surround me: warmth of the sun, gentle breeze in my hair, fireplace aromas, holiday lights on the houses.

I need to continue to break the path before me. I need to continue to till this soil so that new and fresh worlds can bloom and flourish before my very eyes.

How can I continue to till the soil?

Continue my centering prayer sits with God twice a day. God will reveal my next steps in the silence of centering prayer. And when He does I must trust and take action. God loves me, knows what is best for me and is a constant presence of love, wisdom, strength and patience upon which to draw from.

That seems to be all that God has revealed to me at this time so I will sit in silence for a minute or two before I make note of these messages in my journal before I resume with my day.

I seem to have gravitated to the practice of lectio divina right before I retire for the night or after some of my centering prayer sits. I especially like to practice lectio divina before I fall asleep at night. The last step is my rest in God while I sleep. I like to think that I rest in God till I awake in the morning.

Go Further

To go further in Lectio Divina I recommend the following books:

“Lectio divina is not about acquiring head knowledge of Scripture, but about a profound encounter with the heart of God. What is necessary for this prayer is a willingness to surrender yourself to the process.”

— Christine Valters Paintner,

Lectio Divina – The Sacred Art:  Transforming Words & Images into Heart-Centered Prayer (The Art of Spiritual Living) by Christine Valters Painter

Meeting God in Scripture:  A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina by Jan Johnson.

Lectio Divina Heart to Heart – Listening and Living with God by Contemplative Outreach: The ancient practice of praying the Scriptures is being rediscovered and renewed in our time. Known as Lectio Divina (Divine Reading), it is one of the great treasures of the Christian tradition of prayer.

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A Journey of Discernment with the teachings of Mary Margaret Funk and other contemplative voices by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Margaret Funk: This e-course explores the contemplative approach to discerning the small and large decisions in life, which comes from cultivating a life practice of unceasing prayer (whatever types of prayer that may encompass for you). Discernment means sorting our thoughts and following the impulse of grace given by the Holy Spirit. As Sr. Meg writes, “Since we are not our thoughts, we can observe them rising and follow the ones that are from God.” This is a way of coming more awake and discovering the spark of divinity burning in our hearts.

Poetry and Prayer from the Celtic Tradition by Carl McColman: The traditional Celtic people of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales wove prayers, blessings, poems, and songs into every aspect of their daily lives — using the power of language to blend a rich spirituality of presence and wisdom into the very fabric of their being. Many of these poetic invocations and charming poems were collected by folklorist Alexander Carmichael over 100 years ago and preserved in the book Carmina Gadelica — the “Charms of the Gaels.”

Celtic Spirituality At the Edge of Mystery by Carl McColman: Consider it a pilgrimage into one of the best examples of everyday spirituality. Celtic wisdom and poetry ​encourages us to recognize the holy all around us, honors and protects the sacred earth, gives inspiration to free our creative voice, and presents a holistic path that links the quest for holiness with ​an ​embodied​​ sense of Divine love.

Sounds True has titles by teachers and authors such as Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Richard Rohr, David Frenette, Parker PalmerEckhart  Tolle , Michael Singer , Jon Kabat-Zinn , Marianne Williamson to name a few.

Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.

How might your life change if you were steeped more deeply in the wisdom of the Christian Mystics? Drawing on the best available writing on the topic of Christian Mysticism both ancient and modern, Contemplative Light is offering a special course on the Christian Mystics Sacred Lives: An Introduction To The Christian Mystics.

Writing as a Spiritual Practice: This course helps you to access the rich spiritual stories that lie deeply within you. Words are powerful. The words that you write can be used to:

  • help you understand yourself better – and therefore divine God’s purpose in your life
  • facilitate healing of spiritual wounds
  • minister to others more effectively
  • share your testimonies of how God has worked in your life

Contemplative Practices: 5 Ways of Consenting to the Divine – Learn methods practiced by Christian mystics for centuries to consent to the action and presence of God within, including Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, Christian Meditation, and the Jesus Prayer.

Writing as a Spiritual Practice: This course helps you to access the rich spiritual stories that lie deeply within you. Words are powerful. The words that you write can be used to:

  • help you understand yourself better – and therefore divine God’s purpose in your life
  • facilitate healing of spiritual wounds
  • minister to others more effectively
  • share your testimonies of how God has worked in your life

How to Write a Devotional: Plus How to Get Them Published – If you read devotionals, you already know how they can be a true blessing. A devotional can uplift you when you’re feeling discouraged, sad or lonely. It can allow you to feel a keen sense of fellowship with another Christian, even if the two of you never actually meet. And, if you are feeling called to write devotionals, know that you have a unique opportunity to bless others and make a genuine difference in their lives. This course takes you step by step through the process, and then guides you towards publishing, if that is your goal.

Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.

6 thoughts on “Why Do I Practice Sacred Reading?

  1. Yes, indeed I am up to date with the concept of Lectio Divina.
    However a thought just popped into my head that I thought I would run by you!
    You use the term, Sacred Reading. What is a new twist for me is can’t all the Spiritual, nonfiction books i read on a constant basis be considered Sacred Reading too?
    Just a thought!

  2. Thank you for sharing. The message is quite clear. I especially like your explanation of the message you received. I know, too, I will receive the message God has for me from the passages I read. I think the message I received from reading this blog entry is JUST DO IT!

    1. Van and Rich, I read just about everything in that way. The Bible is full of stories that were are expected to glean Insight, inspiration and truth from. I consider all stories period to be that way, whether it’s read or watched on TV.. If there are humans in it messing up and needing grace, love and forgiveness… Then it’s gonna be sacred reading/watching for me haha

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