“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
@@and my Father will love him,
@@@@and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23

 

 

How God speaks to us

Ever since the beginning, the calling of all humanity has been the search for God. Genesis describes that ultimate and perfect liberty of expression which allowed Adam to speak with God, in the cool of the afternoon every day, as a friend talks with their friend. The loss of Paradise was owing to the refusal to listen to the voice of the Creator.

God lost humanity, his own image, and humanity lost its Creator and Father; but God has never ceased to search for us and we must search for God. Searching for God is an absorbing occupation: it requires the whole person and takes a whole lifetime. We must search for God where God is and where God is to be found: in people, in things which happen, in the Eucharist, in the intimacy of our own being, where is God not!? And plainly we must search for him in the following of his will:

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
Blessed are those who observe his instructions,
who seek him with all their hearts. 
                       
(Psalm 119:1-2)

The personal search for God and our personal encounter with him is probably most accurately described as dialogue, that privileged place where the desire of the true, living God for us, converges with our desire for the true, living God. And lectio divina is about this encounter with God in dialogue. The early Christian tradition saw this dialogue as having two parts: reading and prayer. Saint Ambrose of Milan wrote: “We speak to God when we pray; we listen to God when we read his words.” In the monasteries the alternation between prayer and reading allowed this dialogue to be physically expressed and experienced. Meditation was a natural extension of the reading, prolonging and deepening the listening. And a life lived in reading and prayer would give rise to contemplation of God. So in the middle ages Guigo II gave the definition of lectio divina as a ladder of four steps: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. For the beginner, perhaps even for the ‘expert’, this is an unnecessary complication. What is required most of all is a knowledge that God searches for us to speak to us and we can enter into a profound dialogue with him by a simple act of faith: opening the Bible to listen.

Just as each human relationship involves a unique communicative character, so our relationship with God has a unique mode and consequently the way each person prays and listens to God in Scripture will be unique. Consistent prayer will always help a relationship with God to grow, thus a persistent search for God in lectio divina will bear fruit in a unique manner. There are certain things which are common to lectio divina for us all.

Someone who is experienced in lectio divina can be a good guide and a reassurance. In fact the decisive factor in most people’s development of a love of lectio divina is a confident and faithful testimony, friendship and accompanying by someone else who already prays in this way.

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Page last updated on 16 February, 2015