Sacred Reading or “Lectio Divina”

The “lectio divina”(Latin) or “sacred reading” is the bread and butter of my time with the Lord. It is the method I use the most. Maybe it is because of its familiarity. Most Christians who are familiar with the Quiet Time would see its resemblance to the four movements of lectio divina. In the past, I have used the Daily Bread notes of Scripture Union with its similar READ, MEDITATE, APPLY, PRAY.

While READ, MEDITATE, and PRAY seems similar, the lectio divina is to be done in a different spirit. Maybe I did my Quiet Time wrongly, but I used to breeze through the suggested scripture readings, read the writer’s commentary, and pray a bit so I could say to myself that I have done my daily Quiet Time. The aim of lectio divina is not to gain Bible knowledge and information, or to consume spiritual growth vitamins, but to personally meet and commune with God and be loved and formed by Him. 

The pace, attention, and intention are different. We read a passage of scripture slowly, unhurriedly, perhaps aloud, with pauses, and repeat the reading if necessary. We give attention to words, phrases, images that strike or impresses us. We attend to our responses to the scripture: the insights, feelings, memories, and strong reactions that arose. We ponder over what the Lord is stirring or inviting us to. We pray about what he is conveying to us. We pray about how to respond to him. It is more experiential than cerebral. It is more a communion with Christ then an analysis of scripture. At the end of it we feel like we have been with the Lord. 

This practice can be seen as four movements or an intentional progressive process. We usually do all four “steps” in one session but we could also return to the same passage and focus on one of the separate “steps”.


We begin with acknowledging our need of God’s presence with us. Then we read the scripture passage slower than usual, like reading a love letter, gently dancing with the words, noticing what resonates with us, holds our attention, or awakens our needs. We read it over and over. We notice the desert bush that burns, inviting us to draw closer.

He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed (Isaiah 50:4b).

For a start, choose one of the gospels to meditate on. Do not bite off more than you can chew. The length should be in proportion to the time we have. In some Bibles, the passages are clearly divided with sub-headings like “The baptism of Jesus” or “The temptation of Jesus”.


We zero in and ruminate over what resonates for us in the passage. We mutter the phrase or words pondering over what they mean for us. What is the Lord teaching or saying? Is he giving us input about what we are facing in life now? We let the Spirit impart his wisdom, love, peace and whatever graces we need. 

We avoid analysing the text. We leave aside puzzling verses and maybe go to them after the meditation. For the purpose of lectio divina, research may lead us away from what we want.

Perhaps we record the verse, insight, direction or comfort we have received. (More about journaling in a future blogpost.)


We converse with the Lord about our response to his word. We share our honest feelings about those matters that arose from our meditation. We wait in silence for his response since prayer is two-way. His response may come through our thoughts, or shifting of our desires and feelings about a matter, or an increase of faith, hope or love.

Sometimes prayer seem so effortless and other times so difficult and dry. We tell God how we feel even if we are feeling empty and faithless. We pray as a friend would converse with a friend.


We rest in the quiet of his presence and let him love us. Like a little child, we simply lean and rest upon his shoulders and let him embrace us in silence.  We soak in the healing love, peace and contentment that his presence brings. 

End the time with a simple sincere prayer of thanks, or pray or sing “The Lord’s Prayer”.

(This method can also be used in a group setting, like my home church does in the Board of Elders meeting or in cell meetings. In these settings, the individuals share about what resonated with each of them, and end with prayer for one another or one person will conclude the session in prayer).

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Invited to Song of Songs

Song of Songs. That prompting is so slight, so silk, I could have ignored it. But I did not and am thankful for following it. I figured that perhaps it may be the means through which my main prayer for my sabbatical, a deeper love for Jesus,  may get answered. I personally find this  Old Testament book forbidding. I am very much left-brained, and appreciating the Song of Songs is a right-brained activity. It’s like appreciating the poetic lyrics of a popular love song. This is outside my comfort zone. Which is good because at the later part of life we should be moving towards wholeness and wellness, and taking on new frontiers in learning.

I began listening to YouTube videos on appreciating poems and writing and interpreting poems. I listened to David Pawson give an overview of the book. I saved Mike Bickle’s talks on the book. I listened to audio readings of the book. I bought a book titled Love of Loves by Philip Riken, and this week I started to savour the text and talk to the Lord from it. I am excited because the Lord is making the song come alive. I hope it is awakening my love for the Lord. It is making me aware of God’s loving action towards me, His many kisses of love through the many gifts He showered on me. Yes Lord kiss me again and again, till passionate love is awakened in me again, and joy overflows from receiving Your love.

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Serving men from the marketplace

The pastors initiated some pastoral care when we found that a number of men were between jobs. They were mainly professionals  in manufacturing, retail, finance and service industries. We formed a WhatsApp chat group with Wai Tuck as a co-ordinator. We called it Men In Transition. We met them for prayer and meditation (lectio divina), sharing, and meals periodically.

Reflection, lectio divina, sharing and prayer

Last week Tom Cannon and I met them for a few hours of reflection on their vocational history. We got them to draw a timeline and reflect on the high and low points of their years of working life. We asked them to ponder how God was present in their careers, using Old Testament Joseph’s timeline as an example. It opened their eyes. Then Tom led them in a lectio divina on the passage Isaiah 43:1-7. This was followed with a time of sharing their reflections. We listened to their stories of pain, victories, struggles, weaknesses and wrapped up everything by bring these to the Lord in prayer. The Lord was present to impart peace and comfort.

Men in Transition having lunch at The Ranch

Then we proceeded to The Ranch for a $10 set meal. Lovely morning; wonderful fellowship! To do work that encourages, enlightens and give hope to people you care about is such a satisfying thing.

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EAT: Scripture reading and meditation

BibleIt’s not meant to be a chore or religious duty but it can easily become such. It’s not meant to be an intellectual ritual, but sadly it is for many. Reading and meditation on Scriptures and praying from them can be a lovely time of listening and sitting at the Lord’s feet. We quiet ourselves. We take a portion of the Bible and read slowly and listen for Him. Some phrase, word, image or insight gently rise above the rest and we dwell on that and eat. And chew. Let our spiritual organs digest and draw nutrition for our walk. Talk to the Lord about your pondering and the feelings that surfaced. How nice, how pleasant it is to dwell in the house of His presence.

If you are wondering what to read and find it hard to decide, why not try the Revised Common Lectionary. Four bite sized portions of Scriptures every week that covers the major themes of the Bible in three years. Some days you may want to linger longer in a passage that is rich and from which the Lord is speaking significant matters to you. Go deeper and abide there till what He wants said is said.

Pin the website to your home page on your smartphone, or favourite it in your web browser. May your times with the Lord be sweet this year.

So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it, it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey”. (Rev 10:9 ESV)

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