Reading the Bible, if we do not do it rightly, can get us into a lot of trouble. We pick up a Bible and find that we have God’s word in our hands, our hands. We can now handle it. It is easy enough to suppose that we are in control of it, that we can use it, that we are in charge of applying it wherever, whenever, and to whomever we wish without regard to appropriateness or conditions.

Those who don’t know the conditions implicit in the technology of the Bible are dangerous to themselves and others. And so, as we hand out Bibles and urge people to read them, it is imperative that we also say, caveat lector, let the reader beware.

The word of God is not my possession. The words printed on the pages of my Bible give witness to the living and active revelation of the God of creation and salvation, the God of love who became the Word made flesh in Jesus, and I had better not forget it. If in my Bible reading I lose touch with this livingness, if I fail to listen to this living Jesus, submit to this sovereignty, and respond to this love, I become arrogant in my knowing and impersonal in my behavior. An enormous amount of damage is done in the name of Christian living by bad Bible reading. Caveat lector, let the reader beware.

Lectio divina, or sacred reading, trains us in the discipline of reading Scripture rightly. At every turn of the page it poses Jesus’ question to us: “How do you read?”

Lectio divina is the deliberate and intentional practice of making the transition from a kind of reading that treats and handles, however reverently, Jesus dead to listening to, accompanying, and following Jesus alive. A word written is less than a word spoken—and sometimes not even the same thing at all. Which, of course, is why many of us prefer words written to words spoken. It is simpler, we are more in control, we don’t have to deal with the complexities of people. If we don’t like what we are reading we can shut the book and pick up another—or go shopping, or take a walk, or spend an hour or so in the garden.

But we do not read the Bible in order to reduce our lives to what is convenient to us or manageable by us—we want to get in on the great invisibles of the Trinity, the soaring adorations of the angels, the quirky cragginess of the prophets, and . . . Jesus.

Lectio divina is a way of life that develops “according to the Scriptures.” It is not just a skill that we exercise when we have a Bible open before us but a life congruent with the Word made flesh to which the Scriptures give witness. These are spoken words delivered to us by “pioneers who blazed the way” (Hebrews 12:1) and now rewritten in our Holy Scriptures. It is the task of lectio divina to get those words heard and listened to, words written in ink now rewritten in blood.

The Bible is not only written about us but to us. In these pages we become insiders to a conversation in which God uses words to form and bless us, to teach and guide us, to forgive and save us.

In the Message Prayerful Reading Bible the spiritual discipline of lectio divina has been placed alongside the Bible in contemporary language. Here, modern and ancient sit side-by-side; allowing you to read and experience God’s word in a refreshing and timeless way. Choose one of three options to enjoy:

Click any of the three titles to see a preview of the interior and learn more. All three include ample space for journaling with guided reflections that walk you through the six steps of the lectio divina:

  • STOP- pausing for a moment and preparing to encounter God (silencio)
  • READ – doing a first reading and then making observations of the text (lectio)
  • PONDER – reflecting on what we observed in our reading of the text and in ourselves as we read (meditatio)
  • PRAY – engaging in conversation with God inspired by the text (oratio)
  • REFLECT – taking note of what this time with God has brought to the surface (contemplatio)
  • LIVE – considering how this time with God translates into our lives with God (incarnatio)

You’ll enter the text of Scripture more fully than ever before and come out of each prayerful reading with a fresh encounter with our loving God, ready to live in the way of Jesus.