Response to Reader (New Age)


Delta asks:

I brought up the subject of Lectio Divina to my friend, thinking that we could use it together. Once a week we meet as prayer partners, and I thought this practice could be a really neat way to begin our time together. When I mentioned it, she hesitated and said it sounded like “New Age” stuff to her, not Christian, and it wasn’t in the Bible. She seemed really reluctant to give it a chance. What should I say to her, or should I let it go?

Lisa’s response:

The name “Lectio Divina” might do some of the scaring for your friend, but really the “Our Daily Bread” devotional is set up quite similarly to the basic movements of L.D. read, meditate, pray, rest/listen (or dwell/abide/apply) If it was just called “Reading with focused prayer”, maybe no one would care. The tradition of L. D. goes back to very early church times when the first manuscripts of scripture were made available, and Christians could read them out loud and ponder them, pray on them to God, and rest in God.

The nice fit for Evangelicals, for instance, as the major focus is on the Scripture, which Evangelicals LOVE. It puts the Bible in prominence for prayer, worship, and hearing from God. Meditation is Christian (of Yahweh). Personally, as someone in the Christian tradition, I refuse to let other religious/or spiritual sects rob me of what God has given us to grow, and adore and worship him. I think we are cheated to section off practices, used by other groups for other purposes, when they are there to use for our own loving of God. He is the object of our praise. He is our glory. The Christian tradition is rich with meaningful spiritual practices that may be less than cut and dry, or formulaic, but it doesn’t mean God hasn’t and doesn’t use them powerfully to change us into his likeness. The unfamiliar here is only unfamiliar to some, in our current culture and time. 

To be clear, I don’t submit that L.D. and contemplative ways, are a WAY to God, only one of many tools, or vehicles, available to ready our hearts for His good work.

The Contemplative part (movement 4) may be the hardest to understand for your friend, (i.e. most unfamiliar) because it’s more common in the Catholic tradition. Again, some like to think, and reason all spiritual actions out, and figure out the formula of it all. If it’s just being, and resting, enjoying God and listening…how can it be “working”? Where’s the doing part? What good could it REALLY be? So, I like to explain it as resting, and yielding to God. We learn our place. He is God, we are not. We are dependent on Him. We don’t have to *do*. That is the whole point. When we complete this discipline this way, the reorientation can be quite beneficial.

Should you bring it up again? Probably not if it’s a big stumbling block for her. I suggest you enjoy God privately with this enriching practice, and if you would really like to engage L. D. with another, send them here to learn about it, (do a search here for more on the topic) or explain it in terms that they might be more comfortable with, such as “Scripture Reading and Focused Prayer.” May God Bless you as you strive to walk closer to him.

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5 responses to “Response to Reader (New Age)

  1. Great explanation. Very helpful.

    Maybe you could do a series on frequently asked questions about Lectio Divina and other prayer “methods”.

    • lisacolondelay

      Yes, Ed. That’s what I’ve been hoping to do.

      I suppose I should inquire of anyone out there, “What are some questions that you, or people you know, have about L.D.?”

      I do plan to post something in September covering 10-20 prayer forms/methods, or tools (if you will) many don’t normally know of, or utilize. It can add a richness to time with God, and some may particularly appeal to our varied personal propensities of communication and understanding.

  2. I’m late to this conversation but this is a very helpful article re that issue. “Sanctification in a New Key: Relieving Evangelical Anxieties about Spiritual Formation” by Steven Porter of Biola. See especially Porter’s objection #3:

    http://wisdom.biola.edu/sfj/freearticles/downloads/V1-2-129.PDF

  3. Love your words “He is God, we are not.” That is the same thought I often come to myself. My prayers have visual component as I picture Him saying “I AM GOD, and you’re Not.” Simple & cleans the table, real quick. As I contemplate what does that mean, including all it implies, prayer posture becomes a reaction to that reality, taxing my imagination, sufficiently awed & all else at rest .