About Lectio Divina

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Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina, literally meaning "divine reading," is an ancient practice of praying the scriptures. During Lectio Divina, the practitioner listens to the text of the Bible with the "ear of the heart," as if he or she is in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topics for discussion. The method of Lectio Divina includes moments of reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio) and resting in (contemplatio) the Word of God with the aim of nourishing and deepening one's relationship with the Divine.

Like Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina cultivates contemplative prayer. Unlike Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina is a participatory, active practice that uses thoughts, images and insights to enter into a conversation with God. Lectio Divina also is distinguished from reading the Bible for edification or encouragement, Bible study, and praying the scriptures in common, which are all useful but separate practices.

Download a Lectio Divina Brochure Lectio Divna Brochure Icelandic Translation: Biblíuleg íhugun

Lectio Divina Workshops Online Lectio Divina workshop

History of Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is an ancient practice from the Christian contemplative heritage. It was made a regular practice in monasteries by the time of St. Benedict in the 6th century. The classical practice of Lectio Divina can be divided into two forms: monastic and scholastic. The scholastic form was developed in the Middle Ages and divides the process of Lectio Divina into four hierarchical, consecutive steps:  reading, reflecting, responding and resting. The monastic form of Lectio Divina is a more ancient method in which reading, reflecting, responding and resting are experienced as moments rather than steps in a process. In this form, the interaction among the moments is dynamic and the movement through the moments follows the spontaneous prompting of the Holy Spirit. To allow for this spontaneity, Lectio Divina was originally practiced in private.

The current resurgence of Lectio Divina owes much to the reformations of Vatican II and the revival of the contemplative dimension of Christianity. Today, Lectio Divina is practiced in monasteries and by laypeople around the world. New practices have also been inspired by the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, such as praying the scriptures in common, which uses the scholastic form of Lectio Divina for a group experience of praying the scriptures. Though the method of Lectio Divina has taken slightly different forms throughout the centuries, the purpose has remained the same: to enter into a conversation with God and cultivate the gift of contemplation.

Additional resources:


  • Aigner, Jill, OSB. Foundations Last Forever: Lectio Divina, A Mode of Scripture Prayer
  • Arico, Carl. 1997. A Taste of Silence, Ch. 5. New York: Continuum.
  • Bianchi, Enzo. 1998. Praying the Word. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications.
  • Casey, Michael. 1995. Sacred Reading. Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph.
  • Dumm, Demetrius. 1987. Flowers in the Desert, A Spirituality of the Bible. New York: Paulist Press.
  • de Wahl, Esther. 1995. A Life-Giving Way, A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 47-48. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.
  • Earle, Mary C. 2003. Broken body, Healing Spirit: Lectio Divina and Living with Illness. New York: Morehouse Publishing.
  • Guenther, Margaret. 1998. The Practice of Prayer. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications,
  • Hall, Thelma. 1988. Too Deep for Words. New York: Paulist Press.
  • Keating, Thomas. 1994. Intimacy with God, Ch. 5. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
  • Magrassi, Mariano. 1998. Praying the Bible, an Introduction to Lectio Divina. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • Masini, Mario. 1998. An Ancient Prayer that is ever new: Lectio Divina. New York: Alba House.
  • Merton, Thomas. 1986. Opening the Bible. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.
  • Miller, Robert J. 2000. Falling Into Faith: Lectio Divina Series. Franklin, WI: Sheed And Ward.
  • Mulholland, Jr. M. Robert. 2000. Shaped by the Word, Revised Edition. Nashville: The Upper Room Books.
  • Pennington, Basil. 1998. Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures. New York: The Crosswords Press.
  • Salvail, Ghislaine. 1996. At the Crossroads of the Scriptures: An Introduction to Lectio Divina. Boston: Pauline Books and Media.
  • Smith, Martin. 1989. The Word is Very Near You, A Guide to Praying with Scripture. MA: Cowley Publications.
  • Stewart, Columba. 1998. Prayer and Community. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.
  • 1996. Praying with the Community, Vest, Norvene, Gathered in the Word, Praying the Scripture in Small Groups. Nashville: The Upper Room Books.
  • 1998. The Ancient Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina. Contemplative Outreach News (Winter): vol. 12, no. 2.
  • 2001. Fire in the Deep. Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward.
  • Cherish Christ Above All, the Bible in the Rule of St. Benedict. NewYork: Paulist Press.


  • Lectio Divina Practice by Fr. Carl Arico in the series The Practice that Brings the Fruits of Centering Prayer into Daily Life published by Contemplative Outreach.


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