Frankly, meditating on Scripture is one of my favorite topics and disciplines. Though I have been doing this for over 40 years, I still consider myself a student who has neither yet perfected nor reaped the full benefit of this timeworn discipline and, in a manner, art.
Frankly, meditating on Scripture is one of my favorite topics and disciplines. Though I have been doing this for over 40 years, I still consider myself a student who has neither yet perfected nor reaped the full benefit of this timeworn discipline and, in a manner, art. Let’s be clear: when I speak of meditation, I am not referring to the Eastern discipline of “emptying your mind” but actually of purifying and satisfying your mind and soul by filling it with divine content.
One of the clearest descriptions of meditation is “focused thinking”. Scripture meditation, therefore, is focused thinking on and about the Word of God where the intention is for us to understand and apply revealed truths to our lives in humble response to God. The rewards include a greater understanding of Scripture, increased sense of personal well being, a more satisfying communion with God, and a transformed life as it is being conformed to the character and purpose of Jesus Christ. These alone provide exciting incentives to make it a discipline to feast on. In Scripture meditation, thinking nice thoughts is not the goal. Living in true fellowship with God and others is. Look at what the psalmist says about one who meditates on the Word of God:
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:3
When someone tells me that they can’t meditate, I have learned to ask them if they have ever worried. When they answer that they have, I tell them that if they can worry, they can meditate! Worry is focused thinking on problems or circumstances in such a way that affects your mind and heart and, eventually, your behavior. Scripture meditation happens when a student of the Scripture, humble and open, takes the time, to come to the Word of God and engages it with their mind and heart as they read and study for the purpose of deeper fellowship with God and nourishment to their soul. Meditation enables Scripture to become the true soul food.
My daughter, Christine, and I were working through a meditation exercise using Scripture when toward the end of it, she read an instructional guide for Scripture meditation from one of the “help” pages in her Quest Study Bible published by Zondervan. I reviewed it and exclaimed to her that it was one of the clearest, most helpful, simple, yet profound explanations I had heard encountered.
“How Does a Person Meditate on God’s Word?
Meditation [on Scripture] is a combination of reviewing, repeating, reflecting, thinking, analyzing, feeling and even enjoying. It is a physical, intellectual and emotional activity-it involves our whole being.
In some ways meditation doesn’t easily fit into the Western culture. We value action and busyness more than stopping and considering. The author of this psalm was from another time and culture, one with a tradition that valued meditation. As a result, meditation came more naturally for him and others with his Middle Eastern background. We have to overcome some cultural obstacles to learn to meditate.
I especially loved the context clarifying the distinction between the Western and Eastern mindset as the pilgrim approaches meditation. In my opinion, the Eastern avenue seems to open up windows and doors for heart and mind of the Christian pilgrim to embrace more of the mind and heart of God, the mysteries of His infinite fullness. Our traditional, formulaic ways, usually, restricted and hindered by time, space and inner preoccupations, result in a more cerebral, lifeless, approach and result! But that’s for another day, another blog so…
I do know, however, that due to our cultural conditioning and predispositions against stillness, many would legitimately admit that they do not know how to meditate. One blog post won’t cure that (omen of more posts to come on this topic) but I have included here the brief article here from the Quest Bible along with their list of meditation techniques. I threw in a few of my own.
There are a variety of ways to meditate on God’s Word. Techniques include:
- Avoid just diving into the task before asking God for insight; prepare your mind and heart to receive it.
- *Take time to read a verse or passage over and over.
- *Begin to memorize all or part of it.
- Take note of the main characters, descriptions, actions, cause-and-effects, in the passage.
- Define, clarify, ponder special words or phrases
- *Listen! Quiet your hearts to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through God’s Word.
- *Consider how it fits with the rest of the Bible and life in general.
- *Become emotionally involved-allow yourself to feel what God feels, his desires expressed through his words period
- Write down your thoughts, insights, questions, responses to the passage
- *Move from meditation to application-connect your thoughts to action. Consider how the truth and power of the Word of God should affect your behavior.
*(Taken also from the Quest Study Bible article)
Remember, it’s actually putting into practice these and other techniques that facilitates spiritual nourishment as you feast on the wonders of His Word . I hope this article helps you to see the Bible as an invitation to that banquet table of divine revelation that can satisfy your mind and soul as you partake of and savor the fulfilling and delightful delicacies of the riches and depths of God waiting for you in His Word, the Holy Scriptures.