Lectio Divina

What is Lectio Divina?


Lectio Divina means, “Holy Reading” (or, “Divine Reading”). It is a framework of communion with God through Scripture.

Here is what it ISN’T:

  • an opportunity to make up/hear a “new” word from God 

  • just studying the Word without surrendering to it

Lectio Divina seeks to remind us that we sometimes have traded communion with God for just the study of the book He left behind. 


Lectio Divina works through four “movements” 


After you’ve taken enough time to quiet your mind and soul (and put your phone on Do Not Disturb…):

  1. Read (Lectio): read a passage of Scripture slowly, thoughtfully, repeatedly (at LEAST 3x, if not more), and out loud.
  2. Reflect (Meditatio): chew on what jumps out at you and arrests your attention; write a few things down that you notice.
  3. Respond (Oratio): center your prayer/conversation with God about the phrases and themes you identified in Reflect.
  4. Rest (Contemplatio): quiet your heart and listen to God. Give space enough for the question, “What’s on your heart today Lord?”



Select one of the following passages and practice Lectio Divina:

  • John 3:22-4:3
  • Luke 11:1-13
  • Isaiah 30:15-21
  • Psalm 73
  • Psalm 46

Note: this is not a 20-minute exercise. The goal is communion with God, so don’t rush it. Ideally, you would block out 1-2 hours for this process. This may be challenging depending on your family circumstances, but the more time you can “block off” the better. Don’t rush it!


Lectio Divina for Families


Lectio Divina with Young Children

You can walk even young children through the basic movements of Lectio Divina following these steps:

  1. Read: Use a short story (the shorter the better, but definitely less than five minutes long) from a good picture Bible or a Bible-based storybook . Help your child prepare to hear the story by allowing a short snuggling/settling down time, and explaining what you’re going to do: 

    • “Now let’s read a story about God (or Jesus). While I read, you listen for what God (or Jesus) is doing in the story.” 

    • Don’t worry about questions or interruptions; if they are about the text, then your child is already “meditating” on it; if not, address the distraction and gently redirect attention back to the story. You may want to read the story or parts of the story again, either immediately or during a later step.

  2. Reflect: If your child doesn’t have questions or comments of her own, offer some comments and prompting questions: 

    • What is happening in the picture (or in the story)? Why? 

    • What are characters thinking or feeling? 

    • How does this story point to Jesus?

    • How is God (or Jesus) acting in this story? (If God isn’t directly mentioned in the story, you may need to suggest some ways that God is quietly present.) 

    • Which character would you like to be? What would you do differently if you were that character? How would you feel?

  3. Respond: Invite your child to respond to the story in prayer: “You know, God gives us stories like this to help us grow closer to him. Let’s pray to God about this story. What would you like to say to God? Or what questions do you want to ask God about this story?” 

    • Provide guiding prompts, if necessary. Be sure to offer your own prayer response, both to make the experience prayerful for you and to model prayer for your child.

  4. Rest: With young children, the contemplation step can be described as listening to God: “Now that we’ve prayed to God about this story, let’s be quiet so we can hear what God might be saying back to us, inside our hearts.” 

    • Take at least thirty seconds to be silent. If your child is restless or noisy, do your best to complete the period of silence yourself.

Wrapping up: You can finish by asking your child whether they heard God speaking to them. If they say no, you can reassure her that it’s okay—sometimes we aren’t listening closely enough, and sometimes God just likes to spend time quietly with us. 

Lectio Divina with Older Kids

You can walk your older children through the basic movements of Lectio Divina following these steps:

  1. Read: First, select a short reading—the shorter, the better: a paragraph or two, or even a sentence or two from the Bible. If you’re trying this for the first time, select a passage from one of the Gospels or a commonly discussed Old Testament story. Read the text slowly and carefully. Explain words or situations your children may not understand, consulting footnotes or commentaries as necessary. Read the text slowly two or three times, allowing a brief pause between readings.

  2. Reflect: Invite your kids to reflect on the meaning of the passage. You can offer guiding questions such as:

    • What words or images stood out for you? Why? 

    • What does the reading mean to you?

    • How does this story point to Jesus?

    • Does it say anything important about your life right now? 

    • Spend just a few minutes sharing as a family.

  3. Respond: Invite your kids to offer their insights during the meditation step in prayer. This can be done silently or out loud; if your family is just beginning, you may want to offer the prayer yourself on behalf of the whole family, in order to provide an example. During the prayer step, you might offer thanksgiving to God for important insights that emerged from the text. Or, if the text was difficult to meditate on, you might ask God for guidance and clarity. If the text was challenging or caused anxiety, you might ask God for humility, strength, and the ability to trust in His providence.

  4. Rest: Invite your kids to still themselves and attend to God’s presence. God may speak to them in a particular way, or may just be with you in silence.