It seems to me that the Proverbs provide especially good Scriptural text for what is called “lectio divina.” Here is a brief introduction to this spiritual practice from Wikipedia….
In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.
Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.
The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus’ statement in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you” an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. But in Lectio Divina rather than “dissecting peace”, the practitioner “enters peace” and shares in the peace of Christ. In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.
The roots of Scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to Origen in the 3rd century, after whom St. Ambrose taught them to St. Augustine. The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Saint Benedict and was then formalized as a 4 step process by the Carthusian monk, Guigo II, in the 12th century. In the 20th century, the constitution Dei Verbum of the Second Vatican Council recommended Lectio Divina for the general public. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of Lectio Divina in the 21st century.
Through the first step of reading today, I have selected four verses that I especially want to meditate upon, pray over, and contemplate. Here they are….
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run into it and are safe. (18:10)
The human mind may devise many plans,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established. (19:21)
wait for the Lord, and he will help you. (20:22b)
All our steps are ordered by the Lord;
how then can we understand our own ways? (20:24)
I found these verses especially comforting today as I face some important decisions and steps of faith I need to take.
What verses would you select today for your “lectio divina”?