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Christian Meditative reading of Scripture

The idea of praying with sacred scripture comes to the Church through ancient Jewish tradition. Christians in the early Church continued this tradition and further developed the practice of prayer and meditation using mostly the psalms as a rich source of heartfelt engagement with God.

In the 11th century, a Christian monk named Guigo developed a new form of prayer and described it in a letter written to a fellow religious. This letter has become known as The Ladder of Monks and describes a four tread step ladder to Heaven, each step being one of the four steps in his method of prayerful scripture reading called Lectio Divina.

The Christian Latin term for the private meditative reading of Scripture is Lectio Divina (divine reading), the adjective "divine" referring to the object of reading—the divine word. Reading was the first stage in a process of prayer that was current in the early Christian centuries. People would repeat the words of the Scriptures with their lips, in a sense making the body itself enter the process. The next stage after the Lectio Divina was the reflective pondering of the text, meditatio (meditation). Such meditation fostered simultaneous movement of the will, called oratio (prayer). The simplification of all these acts into a kind of rest before the Lord was called contemplatio. Thus, reading seeks, meditation finds, prayer asks, and contemplation tastes.