I was surprised to see a study group on something called Renovare’ being offered at a local church. I scanned the book they are using (The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows) and it looks pretty creepy. Lots of stuff implying that God will reveal special, individualized messages to you in prayer. He could do that, of course, but I’ve read a bit of the Bible and can’t think of a single passage that hints at that being normative or something we can get on demand. The “still, small voice” was audible — and was given to an Old Testament prophet who had just slaughtered a few hundred prophets of Baal after a dramatic showdown. So if you fit that job description, you too can expect audible messages from God!
One exercise from the book has you read a passage then note any word that “God seems to be emphasizing.” Then you “allow God to reveal to you the significance of this word.” This is bad on many levels. Aside from being un-biblical, it will lead people to think they aren’t really Christian or aren’t as spiritual as others because they don’t get personalized messages from God. Or people will make up some meaning that isn’t there and just fashion a god in their own image. Or they will feel peer pressure to make up something (hey, lying is always good for spiritual growth, right?).
There was lots on lectio divina in the book as well.
Maybe if we just read the 31,173 verses in context and really sought to understand them via normal Bible study techniques we’d be better off. God seemed to be keen on getting what He wanted into the Bible, so perhaps those drawn to lectio divina and Renovare’-type practices should make sure they have all those verses well understood before expecting God to give them something new and personalized.