Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is another form of contemplative prayer a practice done by many Christian mystics for centuries as a way of centering themselves and finding inspiration.
This is not a magic recipe to enlightenment required for someone to find meaning in what they are reading; instead it is one of several forms that help others find inspiration from what is read, and need not be done in any particular order for for any set period of time.
To practice this form of prayer, begin in silence after opening the text to be read. Focus on your breathing. Read the text and focus on the words on the page, not the context or a previous thought you have heard or had, and consider the text as a fresh slate to be inspired by. Meditate on a word, phrase, character or idea that is drawn from the text. Focus on the word or phrase and let your mind wander and walk with your thoughts, allowing any off-topic thought to splash away like a wave hitting a rocky shore. Pray by putting into words what has been drawn from the text, focus attention on a thought that remained paramount. Contemplate what was read, meditated, and prayed on in a way that allows for natural flow. Matters that have been contemplated on have the ability to face dark realities to periods of experiencing clarity of thought or purpose. Put plainly before, “Lectio Divina is about inspiration, not information.”
It is easy to get bogged down on the amount of time a person should spend in Lectio Divina, but this is not so important. Lectio Divina can last for several hours or a couple minutes.
In in my experience I prefer to set aside a full hour devoted to Lectio Divina before going to work each morning. This is not to say that I always use the entire hour or that I never go over it, it is just a helpful limitation I put on myself. The important thing is remembering that this is my contemplative life in community with others, and we all do not practice at the same pace.
Do not compare yourself to the others in the amount of time they spent reading, praying, or journaling. This is your contemplative life, and how much time you spend on it needs to feel right for you. My experienced has shown me that if I look back and feel I should have spent more time, I should have. If I find out that my mentor spends 4 hours a day in prayer, and I spend 1, who is to say one is anymore or less meaningful?
When taking part in Lectio Divina, go at your own pace and not others. I have grown weary of scheduled Lectio Divina group sessions that assigned a specific time on a particular part, as if we all process life at the same pace. This is about you and the inspiration you are drawing from it, do not focus on the quantity of time spent in prayer, but rather the personal quality you experience.