I am convinced that the greatest devotional need for most of those reading this article – even those committed to spending time in the Bible every day – is to meditate on Scripture.
It seems a common experience for people to read the Bible and then, as soon as they close it, to forget everything they’ve read.
People are seldom changed by what they immediately forget.
Why Can’t We Remember?
Do most people somehow lack the mental equipment necessary to remember something they just read? I think the forgetfulness occurs mostly because people spend two or three seconds reading one verse, then two or three seconds with the next verse, and so on until they are finished. How much does anyone remember of thoughts they considered for just two seconds?
Reading the Bible was never intended to be the primary means of absorbing the Bible. Reading is the starting place, but meditation is the absorption of Scripture.
And it is the absorption of Scripture that leads to the experiences with God and the changes in our lives that we seek when we come to the Bible.
Why is Our Time In Scripture Not More Profitable?
The main reason more Christians don’t find their daily time in the Scriptures more profitable has little do with the strength of their memory, the level of they education, or their IQ; rather, the problem is very simple: a lack of meditation on Scripture.
How Do We Meditate on Scripture?
There are many ways to meditate on the text of Scripture, such as:
- Repeating the verse or phrase with emphasis on a different word each time.
- Rewriting the verse or phrase in your own words.
- Looking for applications of the text.
- Formulating a principle from it.
- Asking what question is answered or problem is solved by it.
- Praying through the text.
- Select something from your reading and ask: “How does this text relate to the gospel and the Jesus?” Maybe you will select a single word, a character in the narrative, or the main idea of the passage. From it you may see, for instance, (a) something that shows our need for the gospel, or (b) an example that points to something Jesus is or (c) something Jesus did in an even greater way, or (d) an illustration of one of the effects of the gospel upon those who believe.
If you spend just sixty seconds meditating on a verse of Scripture, do you realize that may be ten to twenty times as long as you would normally consider that verse? Reserve at least a minute in your Bible reading time today, choose a verse, and [meditate on it using one of the means above. You may start by] ask[ing], “How does this text relate to the gospel and to Jesus?”
Questions for Reflection
- Do you spend time meditating on God’s Word?
- How could meditating on God’s Word change the way you do your daily devotional reading?
Table Talk Magazine, Seeing the Gospel in the Word of God, by Donald Whitney, February 26-27, 2011 (headings and bullets mine)