Lectio Divina in the experience of Israel and of the Church

The icons of Bose - Eastern and Western Church Fathers - Byzantine style - egg tempera on wood, 40x40 cm
...All the Church Fathers, in both East and West, practised this method of lectio divina...

In the First Covenant, ancient Israel prayed the Word and used the Word ta pray. You can see these communal practices described in chapter 8 of Nehemiah. This method of explaining and praying the Word is the forerunner of lectio. It became the classic jewish model of prayer and Christianity inherited it (cf. 2 Tm 3:14-16). The New Testament doesn't describe this method so much as make reference to it in several passages.

Generations of Christians continued praying this way, rarely falling finto any form of non-biblical piety or using any prayer that did not recognize the absolute primacy of the Word in the Church's life of prayer. All the Church Fathers, in both East and West, practised this method of lectio divina and encouraged the faithful to do the same in their homes. As a result, they have left us their wonderful commentaries on Scripture, the fruit of their lectio.

And how con we skip over the monastic tradition? The monks made lectio divina the center of their lives both in the desert and in their communities. They called it the ascesis of the monk and his daily bread, for they knew that 'human beings cannot live by bread alone but by every word which comes from the mouth of God' (Dt 8:3 and Mt 4:4). At a certain point, they found it necessary to set this method down in writing to help the novices, who wanted to learn to take the Word into themselves through the Spirit who not only sanctifies but even divinizes them.

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