Updated: Aug 20, 2018
All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
Have you ever heard of Lectio Divina? Lectio Divina means “Divine Reading.” It is a way of reading the Bible that is slow and intentional; it asks us to remove our will and listen for God’s will. God’s Word is alive and filled with the Spirit-- Lectio Divina challenges us to tap into that and allow the scriptures to speak to us in a new way.
I realized that kids are capable of doing a Lectio Divina when my oldest son started to learn to read. His teacher sent home a “Spring Break Reading Bingo” game. Each square of the bingo board had an early reading skill written on it. There were prompts such as, “Can you describe the main character?” “Describe the setting” “Make a prediction” “How does this character feel?” My son and I played the bingo game during his break and I was amazed at what he was able to tell me about the stories.
If kids can listen to story books intentionally, they can listen to God’s Word intentionally. You will be amazed at what kids can pull from Scripture when they are quiet and rest in it.
How to do a Lectio Divina
Have your child lay down in a comfortable position. Ask them to close their eyes and take some deep breaths to quiet their bodies. Say to your child, “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.” A good place to start is by reading The Jesus Storybook Bible paraphrase of Psalm 23:
“God is my shepherd. And I am his little lamb. He feeds me. He guides me. He looks after me. I have everything I need. Inside, my heart is very quiet. As quiet as laying still in soft green grass in a meadow by a stream. Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places I won’t be afraid because my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me, he keeps me safe, he rescues me, he makes me strong and brave.”
When you are finished reading ask, “what part of that did you like?” Read that part again and then ask, “How does that make your heart feel” “What does that tell you about Jesus” and “What does that tell you about yourself?”
Here is an example of how I did this with my son:
“Calvin, I’m going to pray with you in a very special way. I am going to read Psalm 23 and I want you to close your eyes and listen to the words I am saying. Just relax and breathe. God is all around you and and can speak to you in a lot of ways, especially from the Bible.”
When I finished reading the paraphrase of Psalm 23 I said, “Calvin, what part did you like?”
He replied, “When I walk through dark places I don’t have to be afraid.”
“Okay, I am going to read that part again and pay attention to how that makes your heart feel.”
I read the part he described back to him, “Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places I won’t be afraid because my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me, he keeps me safe, he rescues me, he makes me strong and brave.”
“Okay, buddy, how does that make your heart feel?”
“It makes my heart feel happy, brave, and strong.”
“What does it tell you about Jesus?”
“That he is with me in dark places and is keeping me safe.”
“What does that tell you about yourself?”
“That, like, I don’t have to be afraid when I walk down a dark hallway by myself because Jesus is there with me and he is making me stronger” (and then he flexed his muscles).
Keep in Mind
The Jesus Storybook Bible is a great place to go for more scripture because it is really easy to understand. Most people use Psalms for Lectio Divina, but you can use any scripture. Try looking through The Message version because it is a paraphrased Bible and is very easy to understand for both kids and adults.
Don’t box your child in and definitely don’t box God in! You may be surprised at what your child picks out from Scripture. Trust that God is at work in their hearts. You can keep coming back to the same Scripture. Your child may continue to hear the same things over and over or may pick out something different. Just keep encouraging them!
Don’t be frustrated if your child doesn’t pick this up easily. He or she may not hear anything for awhile. Don’t give up. Just keep practicing gently.
Take note of what your child hears and run with that. My Calvin was afraid to go many places by himself, especially the dark basement or dark hallways! I used this as an opportunity to encourage him. When he was afraid I would say, “Remember what God spoke to you through Psalm 23? You don’t have to be afraid because God is always with you and makes you brave and strong.”