About a month ago, I had the opportunity to talk with one of my good friends about our time with the Lord. During our discussion we attempted to answer the question: What does it mean to commune with the Lord? As we came to an answer, we opened the door to a second question dealing with meditation in the Christian life.
After thinking and reading about Christian Meditation for the last month, I finally am at a place where I want to share my thoughts, but first lets answer our original question – What does it mean to commune with the Lord? – before moving on to an in-depth look at Christian Meditation.
Communing with the Lord occurs:
(1) When we spend time reading His Word
(2) When we spend time in prayer
(3) When we spend time meditating on God’s Word
It is on this last point that I would like to focus because I am afraid we do not understand what it means to meditate on Scripture, nor do we understand the benefits and purpose. As a result, I would like to provide you with a definition of Christian meditation, its scriptural warrant, a guide to meditation, and the advantages of meditating on God’s Word.
Chewing the Cud
Chewing the cud is a process that takes time and effort. In order for a cow to digest his meal, he must chew on it for an extended period. Swallow it, allow for digestion to occur, then bring it back up and chew on it some more. This process is repeated until it is able to be fully digested.
I believe we should take this same approach with Scripture. Like chewing the cud, meditation takes time and effort. It is a focused time where we chew on a small part of Scripture for an extended period to come to a place where we understand God’s Word more deeply with the purpose of obedience, repentance, sanctification, and increased heavenly affections.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
What Does It Mean To Meditate on God’s Word?
Meditation, in a Christian sense, can be defined as “an holy exercise of the mind, whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them, and apply them to ourselves” (Thomas Watson Heaven Taken By Storm, 42).
Watson’s definition can be broken down into three parts:
(1) Remember God’s truths
(2) Think deeply upon God’s truths
(3) Apply God’s truths to our lives
How to Practice Meditation
Meditation is not the process of clearing your mind, so the universe can come in. It does not involve chants, postures, or New Age music. Meditation is active, and it has content, namely, God’s Word. In order to meditate properly, you need to:
First, separate yourself physically from the World. Meditating on Scripture at Starbucks is not going to work. You need to free yourself of all distractions and get alone somewhere.
Second, read Scripture, or repeat a verse you have recently memorized so your mind is saturated with God’s Word.
Third, gather your thoughts and remember the truths about God you just read. The purpose is to begin to think deeply about God’s Word. A singular focus on Scripture is what we should be after.
Fourth, examine your life to discover how the truths about God, sin, humanity, and salvation apply.
Fifth, pray and ask God to help you apply the truths of Scripture to your life through the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit working in your life, you have no hope of knowing where you need to change.
Finally, change must occur. Meditation “is not just about seeing where [you] lack or what [you] need to change;” it must include actual change in your lives (Neimeyer, 172).
The outcome should be a recognition of your sin, a willingness to repent, a deeper understanding of God’s provisions and holiness, along with increased affections for your Savior.
Meditation Allows One to Progress in the Christian Life By
(1) Motivating one to repent from sin
As the sin in your life becomes more vivid, and your understanding of the gospel becomes more ingrained, you will be motivated to repent of your sin.
(2) Causing one to grow in holiness
As you repent of your sins, you will grow in holiness becoming more like your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(3) Improving one’s relationship with others
By thinking on Christ’s love for you, your love for others will grow.
(1) Your Prayer Life
(2) Your Personal Reading of the Word
(3) Your Hearing The Word Preached
Given all the benefits of Meditation – a deeper understanding of God’s Word, a clearer realization of your sin, a more vivid picture of the Gospel, increased repentance, a greater love for others, a deeper prayer life, and increased affections for your Lord and Savior – we should be spending the effort to meditate on God’s Word more regularly.
This post was developed from an article in the Puritan Reformed Journal from January 2010 Vol 2, Num 1. Written by Jennifer C. Neimeyer and is Entitled: Thomas Watson: The Necessity of Meditation found on pages 166-181.