The following is an excerpt from The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation; editor Keith Beasley-Topliffe:
Preparation: Select a text for the session. Many use the lectionary readings or some thematic scheme. Take a moment to quiet the heart and mind in preparation to encounter God by using a deep breathing relaxation technique, breath prayer, or just two or three minutes of silence.
Lectio- Hearing the Sacred Word
The emphasis here is on "hearing" God address you personally through the sacred text. The method suggests three slow readings.
First Reading: Read the entire passage slowly, allowing each word to speak to you. Pause often between words or verses. Sit silently for a minute or two.
Second Reading: Reread the passage, again slowly with pauses to allow a word or phrase or image in the text to call you to attention. This time make a mental note of the word, phrase, or image in the text that caught your attention. Again sit in silence.
Third Reading: Reread the passage up to the point you are touched by a word or verse. You have found the word or verse in the scripture that God desires to speak to you in a personal way. At this point you will flow naturally into the next step of meditation.
Meditatio- Pondering the Personal Word.
The emphasis in this step is on "pondering" the word or verse that touched you in the lectio. Pondering is like memorizing by repeating the word or verse gently to yourself. Allow the word to sink into your consciousness through a playful interaction with your thoughts, hopes, memories, imagination, desires, and fears. In this movement God can speak the individual personal word to your specific condition. In the fullness of this encounter you will flow naturally into the next step of vocal prayer.
Oratio_ Intimate Dialogue with God
Often the spontaneous vocal prayer that flows from the heart of meditation is an expression of love, praise ,or thanksgiving. However, it is usually experiences as an intimate dialogue with God, a gently movement between heartfelt expressions and responsiveness to the movements of the Spirit nurtured by deeper meditation.
Contemplatio- Heavenly Rest
Eventually a gradual simplification comes from the space created by vocal prayer, and your words begin to lack true expressive qualities. The heart and mind become still and silent. You simply rest and enjoy the experience of being in the presence ofGOd. It is here you stop "doing" and learn to enjoy "being".
Incarnatio- A Calling Forward
One cannot rest in the presence of God without being challenged and/or changed to some degree. In this movement, you are filled with a desire to love and obey God. This movement is experienced as a calling forward to some practical lived expression of loving God and neighbor. From contemplation, you move more confidently into the world as an agent of love and creative transformation.