Today's teenagers live at hyperspeed. Their days are jammed with school, work, friends, sports, homework, dates, church, and a few moments of sleep. The frantic pace of teen life has led youth pastors such as Tony Jones to search for ways to help teenagers be still and know God. Several years ago, Jones, then the pastor for youth and young adults at Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota, began using a centuries-old form of prayer called the "Lectio Divina" as a way of helping his junior and senior high students step out of their mile-a-minute days and into the presence of God. The practice was so well-received that Jones wrote a book about it called Read, Think, Pray, Live (NavPress), which helps teenagers discover the beauty of the Lectio Divina. CPT recently talked with Jones about this unique way of praying and why it can change the way your teenager experiences God.
Christian Parenting Today: Let's start with the basics. What is the Lectio Divina?
Tony Jones: Lectio Divina is an ancient method of contemplative prayer that involves four basic stages: Lectio: a selection or reading; Meditatio: thinking over or meditation; Oratio: speaking or praying; and Contemplatio: contemplation. I know it sounds intimidating, but I've been using it with students for several years, and we have been blown away by how we sense God speaking to us as we pray.
CPT: So how does a teenager pray the Lectio Divina?
TJ: You need to start with an atmosphere that lends itself to quiet and reflection. Some people like to use soft background music, but I think silence works best. Then you need to sit in a posture that keeps your spine straight, such as sitting on a firm chair with both feet on the floor and your head either looking straight ahead or slightly bowed. You can also kneel, although that can get uncomfortable pretty quickly.1