Divine Reading and Perfect Love
One of the things that we love doing with our kids is Lectio Divina. You can read our original post here. The word is big and fancy sounding, but it's so simple and something you can easily do with your kids. It's snow day number 1,839 here today and my kids are home from school. Again. We did this Lectio Divina reading this morning in an attempt to start our day off right. Just in case you think that our days start with Lectio Divina and continue with prayerful, screen-free, educational activities, you should know we have also watched two movies and are still in our pajamas. We do what we can, right?
We chose to pray one specific thing over our kids each month this year (download the calendar here if you want to join us!) and this month we are focusing on praying for our kids to love God and love others, so I chose two verses about love to read with my kids today.
I read both passages to my boys, but you can choose one or the other if you don't want to read both. I love doing this with my boys together because they respond so differently. Calvin, who is almost 7, has more experience with Lectio Divina and can be relatively still and listen. Griffin, who is 4.5, rolls all over the place. It's not perfect and it's not pretty, but I know that we are practicing a valuable spiritual discipline and that my boys are getting something out of it, even if they are restless. With these passages Calvin said he liked the part about God's love being perfect and Griffin said we should be kind to our friends because God loves us. It makes my mom heart so happy to hear those sweet words come out of their mouths.
How to do a Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina means "divine reading," it is a way of slowly and intentionally reading a passage of Scripture and discerning God's voice from it.
A Lectio Divina is traditionally broken into four parts:
Read- reading the text out loud until a phrase stands out, this is what the Holy Spirit is drawing your attention to.
Meditate- repeat the phrase out loud, asking what God is saying to you through this text.
Pray- take your thoughts and offer them back to God giving thanks, asking for guidance or forgiveness, or resting in His love.
Contemplate- simply move from prayer into resting in God’s presence. Listen to God and enjoy His stillness and quiet peace.
The concept of doing this with kids may be overwhelming, but try it! If your child can follow along when you read them a book, they can do Lectio Divina too. To do it with kids, break it down like this:
Get in a comfortable position.
Read the passage. Say, “Okay, I am going to read part of the Bible to you. I want you to close your eyes and listen to the words I am saying. Know that God is all around you and can speak to you through these words."
When you are finished reading, ask what their favorite part was. They can pick a favorite phrase, sentence, or word.
Tell them you will read that part again and read their selected phrase.
Ask questions, “How does that make your heart feel?” “What does that tell you about Jesus?” “What does that tell you about yourself?”
Pray and thank God for speaking to you through Scripture.
Be patient with yourself and your kids, this can take some practice, but it is a great spiritual discipline once you get the hang of it.
Here are the passages we suggest using to do a love themed Lectio Divina with your kids, they are both taken from The Message. You can adapt as needed depending on the ages and attention spans of your kids. It's totally fine to pick just a verse or two to read if these seem too long.
1 Corinthians 13:3-7
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end
1 John 4:7-12
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!