Christianity is a religion of the heart. However, all too often we make it about the head, which tends to emphasize doctrine and specific beliefs. When Christianity gets “too heady” we miss the experience of the Living Christ dwelling within us.
Regardless whether one interprets this passage as heart or belly, it clearly points to a place other than one’s head. If you are familiar with the Enneagram you know that the belly or gut is our instinctual center, which is responsible for our visceral experience of being alive.
Jesus teaches: “Out of the believer’s heart [belly] shall flow rivers of living waters.” Now he said this about the Spirit which believers in Him were to receive. (John 7:38).
Lectio divina, a Latin phrase that means divine reading, is an ancient Christian practice that leads us further into those living waters that Jesus teaches about. It invites us to journey deeper into the heart of God. Lectio divina, as meditative practice, helps subdue the busyness of our thoughts so that we can access the fountain of living water within us, the home of the Spirit.
There are four movements in lectio divina: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.
- Reading: The first step is to select a few verses of scripture and read them aloud. Read them slowly while paying attention to your physical experience of the passage. Take a moment of silence and read the passage again. After some silence read it a third time. The goal here is to settle into how the passage is affecting you.
- Meditation: As you paid attention to your physical experience of the reading, you may notice a subtle sensation that coincided with a word or phrase; that’s the Holy Spirit stirring in you as a result of hearing that holy word or phrase. Enter a period of meditation by allowing that word or phrase to soak into you. You may ask yourself what it might be saying about your life or current situation. You may reflect upon the meaning of the word and what God is trying to tell you about you. Just sit with the word.
- Prayer: After the word or phrase has settled into your being, enter a time of prayer. Be in dialogue with God about the word or phrase. Ask God for insight as to how the word applies to you in this moment, then simple listen for the “still small voice” of God.
- Contemplation: Let your dialogue with God turn to quiet stillness. Simply be present in the moment and give yourself over to God.