Preparation (Silencio): Before you begin the process, close your eyes, still your spirit, and spend a few minutes in silence. Prepare your heart to receive God’s Word, and allow yourself to become consciously aware of His presence with you. Express your willingness (or, at the very least, your willingness to be made willing) to hear from Him. It could be a short, simple prayer, like: “Come, Lord Jesus,” or “Here I am,” or “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Read (Lectio): Read a passage of Scripture slowly, either silently or out loud (first reading). As you read it, listen for a word or phrase that strikes you, or arrests your attention. It’s a word or phrase that will stand out from among the rest. It may create in you some kind of visceral reaction, like a deep sense of resonance or resistance in your spirit. When you’re done reading the passage, take a few moments of silence to repeat the word or phrase to yourself. Don’t analyze it, or seek to understand it, or try to figure out what it means! But use observation skills to see what is really there.
Reflect (Meditatio): Now that a word or phrase has resonated with you, take time to read the passage again (your second reading). Then, in silence, listen for how the passage–especially the word or phrase that has stood out to you–connects with your life. How has your life been touched or impacted by this passage of Scripture, or by the word or phrase in it that has resonated with your spirit? What is it in your life right now that needs to hear and respond to what you’ve just read? If the passage is a story, you might ask yourself where you are in the story. How does the story connect with your own life experience? What do you hear as you imagine yourself in the story, or as you hear words or phrases in the story addressed specifically to you?
Respond (Oratio): Now that you’ve taken some time to reflect on the passage, and on the words or phrases that have resonated with your spirit, read the passage again (this is your third reading). When you’re done reading, pay careful attention to how your spirit is responding to what you’ve just read–your natural, instinctive response to the passage of Scripture–and share that with the Lord in prayer. What is your deepest and truest reaction to the passage of Scripture, or (more specifically) to the word or phrase in that passage that has resonated with you? Maybe the Scripture has addressed a place of pain or frustration in your life. Maybe it has opened your eyes to something about yourself that you previously had not realized. Or maybe it has convicted you of a sin in your life. Whatever your reaction may be, honestly and openly articulate to the Lord how your spirit is responding to the Scripture. At this point, you’re entering into a personal dialogue with the Lord, sharing with Him the emotions and reactions that the text has awakened or aroused in you. As you do this, pay careful attention to any sense you may have that God is inviting you to act or respond in some way to whatever part or parts of the Scripture that have resonated with your spirit.
Rest (Contemplatio): Read the text one last time (your fourth reading), and take some time to rest in the Word of God. Rest in silence in God’s presence, in a posture of complete surrender and abandon, like a weaned child leans against its mother. (Psalm 131:2: But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”). Like a weaned child, you’ve received what you needed from the Lord, and you can now rest in (and enjoy) His presence, knowing that He will enable and empower you to do whatever He has asked of you.
Resolve (Incarnatio): After completing your time of contemplatio, incarnate (live out) God’s Word. As you emerge from this time alone with God, resolve to carry out His word–to respond faithfully to whatever invitation, challenge, admonition, instruction, or encouragement you’ve heard from Him. Choose to live out His Word to you in the context of your daily life. Throughout the day, continue to listen to and meditate on the word or phrase that resonated with you in the passage of Scripture you read. As you do that, you’ll develop an ever-deeper understanding of its meaning and significance, until that word or phrase begins to live in you, and you begin to live it out!