Psalm 91: 1 – 8 NLT
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
Today, I want to introduce you to lectio divina. I first became aware of this practice at the LSA women’s retreats many years ago. Like prayer examen, this practice helps you to have a closer relationship with God. What is lectio divina? It’s a way of reading scripture and applying it to your personal life and behaviour.
First of all, you quiet yourself with prayer, asking God to speak to you as you read.
First, you read the verses you’ve chosen for the day. As you read, concentrate on what the verses are saying. You are just trying to get a general idea of what is said. Next, you read them slowly, and see if a word or phrase stands out to you.
Take some time to think about that word or phrase. What thoughts does it bring to mind? It can be a variety of thoughts and feelings. Mull them over as you think about your life and experiences.
Pray again, asking God to show you what he wants to say to you today as a result of those verses, word or phrase. It might be something you realize you should do. It might be an attitude of yours that needs adjusting. It might be a personal reassurance from God.
Then spend some time in prayer asking God to be with you as your day unfolds, as you try to live the way he is leading you.
Let’s try this now. You’ve already read the verses from Psalm 91 and have caught the general idea of the verses – so you have already taken one of the first steps in lectio divina. As you read this time, look for words or phrases that stand out to you. Choose one(s) that strikes you the most.
Take some time to pray and ponder over what you’ve chosen. What thoughts and memories do those words bring to your mind?
Pray again and ask God where he is leading you as a result of this.
Here is an example of how I used lectio divina in Psalm 91.
The words that jumped out at me are “He will cover you with his feathers” and “His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Feathers – armor – protection. Feathers are so light; you can hold one and not feel any weight at all. They belong to birds, some of the smallest creatures. When I watch the gold finches at the feeders in my backyard, I notice they will take flight at the tiniest noise, the moment they sense the presence of another bird arriving. They are so sensitive and appear nervous about their safety.
Yet that word “armor” is a strong word. I think of steel and iron – strong metals. It’s heavy and clumsy to wear, but it does protect you. Any arrows or bullets will just go “ping” off its surface. God promises he will cover me with his feathers, but he also promises me protection like armor gives. Hmm …
There are so many promises in the Bible of God’s love and faithfulness. There are certainly enough promises to cover my life completely. I often read them and go “oh, yeah” inside my head, and then continue to worry and fret over what’s happening that day. Those “feathers” are my “armor”. I need to stop worrying and turn the situation over to God. I need to pray through my day today, and ask God for his leading when I start stressing. I need to comprehend and accept that his promises are my armor and protection.
Our song for today is Draw Me Close by Michael W. Smith