Another one of the extra-biblical tools of contemplative spirituality which the the BC MB Conference’s Mark Centre uses to teach retreaters how to listen to God is an ancient practice of “Holy reading” used by Roman Catholics called Lectio Divina:
Receiving and Savoring the Word
Invitations from God
“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” (I Sam 3:10)
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:9)
“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:2)
• This prayerful reading of Scripture is complimentary to Bible Study, but meant to be an experience of receiving words from God in the here and now.
• Lectio Divina has been compared to “Feasting on the Word.”
• Practicing this regularly can help “the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col 3:16)
• In a quiet setting READ the PASSAGE out loud at least twice.
• PAY ATTENTION to the word or phrase that grabs you.
• In silence, allow God to use that word or phrase to speak to your heart.
• Don’t try to figure out the whole passage, enjoy and savor what God is saying to you.
• What is the word or phrase stirring up in your heart? Write down your ideas.
• Read the passage out loud again. Pause for another minute of silence while you ponder the question: “If what I have been meditating on is true, then what?” “What is my response?”
• If you are in a group, give opportunity to talk to each other about what God is saying to each of you.
Read about Lectio Divina and why this should be a concern, here:
Lectio Divina: Leading Sheep to a New Level of Consciousness
What is Lectio Divina?
As the MB Herald recently published, this form of contemplative spirituality is now being spread through missions.
TA McMahon has written an article called Please Contemplate This, in which he describes contemplative prayer and the practice of Lectio Divina. It’s not new, but then neither is Lectio Divina:
Lectio Divina (or “holy reading”) is one of the basic exercises of these disciplines. A phrase or single word is chosen from the Bible. However, rather than aiding understanding through one’s dwelling on its plain meaning, the word or words become mediumistic devices for hearing directly from God. The word or phrase is then “meditated upon” (meditatio) by being slowly repeated again and again in the fashion of a mantra (Jesus condemns as heathen “vain repetitions” in prayer [Mt 6:7]). It is then prayed (oratio) as an incantation, thereby allegedly healing painful thoughts or emotions. Finally, the repeated word is used to help clear one’s thoughts (contemplatio), supposedly making one an open receptacle for personally hearing God’s voice.
These biblical words are selected not for the purpose of attaining objective understanding—the “contemplator” has almost no interest in the meaning, grammatical use or context of the verses, which simply become a mechanism to aid in listening for subjective communication from God. It should be obvious (especially for evangelicals!) that this is not how the Bible instructs us to learn or teach the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Furthermore, classic contemplative concepts reject doctrine as a basis for knowing God and for receiving His salvation. Many of the movement’s “spiritual masters” blame western rationalism (with its penchant for reason and emphasis upon words) for nearly destroying “our ability to intuitively experience our Creator.”
Hopefully this helps those reading here to understand why so many are concerned about the contemplative direction that the Mennonites have chosen.
Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice