Leap to flame...

‘We read under the eye of God until the heart is touched and leaps to flame.’
Dom Columba Marmion

These words provide a beautiful picture of what reading the Bible can be. We read in the presence of God. We read until God's words burst to life, like a bonfire on a cold winter’s night. What an exciting approach to the Bible, one that can inspire our children as well as all ages. 

God wants to speak with our children through the words in the Bible.

Dom Columba Marmion is talking about an ancient way of reading the Bible called Lectio Divina. This method involves reading the words slowly and thoughtfully, working through four steps. The four steps are: lectio (reading), meditatio (meditatio), oratio (prayer) and contemplatio (contemplation). 

When I use this method with children I phrase it this way:

- Read
- Reflect
- Respond
- Rest

Here's what happened on one of our children's camps. 


It was early morning as the campers gathered in the hall, dressed in PJ's and with their Bibles, and pens and paper.

Read: I began by reading slowly from Philippians 1, pausing, and then reading it again. I asked the campers to listen carefully and pay attention to any words that jumped out. 

Reflect: Next I asked them to reflect on what they had just heard. What words, pictures, or ideas were in their mind? Were there words that seemed special or important? How did these words make them feel? ‘Do you think God might be saying something to you?’ 
They were given time to write or draw these things on their piece of paper. 

Respond: I invited the campers to sit in silence for a few moments. During this silence they could talk with God. I encouraged them to ask God a question, to thank God for something or simply to talk with God about how this passage made them feel. They could also choose to sit and think, or to write their response down in their journal. 

Rest: The last step was to invite God to talk with us. I gave them the chance to sit in silence and listen. They might hear God speak, or they might have a picture in their mind, a line from a song, or a feeling. I assured them that if nothing happened, that was okay too. Just rest and listen.

After the campers had returned to their cabins to prepare for the day, one of my young leaders came to find me. She told me of the experience of one of her campers, an experience that deeply impacted me, this leader and the camper.

During our Bible reading time of exploring Philippians 1, words had jumped off the page and burst into flame! For this one young girl, during this time exploring Philippians 1 God spoke clearly to her from one verse in particular, touching her heart in a powerful way that has stayed with her long after camp. She was convinced she said, to the core of her being that God loves her. How amazing is that! It should come as no surprise that when we read slowly and take time to listen, that fires start breaking out all over the place. 


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