The What, How, and Why of Meditating on Scripture

Psalm 1:2 says,

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night.” (Ps.1:2)

Secular/Eastern Meditation

A couple of years ago, I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The movie is about a lady trying to find herself. In the process, she travels to India, just like everyone who is trying to find themselves do. While she is there, she encounters a guy who tells her about one of his meditation experiences. One day, in particular, he had gone on the roof to meditate, and that day he was able to clear his mind in a way he hadn’t been able to do before. As result, the universe came rushing in and provided the insight he was seeking.

While that’s an Eastern and secular idea of meditation, that’s not what I’m encouraging.

Meditation in a Biblical Sense

Meditating in a biblical sense is much different than what’s commonly practiced in Eastern Religions, and even in our secular culture. By telling you to meditate on the Bible, I’m not encouraging you to hum in a monotone tone, with your legs crossed in an effort to completely clear your mind so that the universe can come rushing in. Instead, I’m encouraging you to do the exact opposite — to fill your mind with Scripture, to turn it over and over in your head in an effort to understand it and apply it to your life.

An Everyday Practice

Meditation is something we should practice each day after we get done reading the Bible, which means we aren’t to close the book, check the box on our reading plan, and never think about what we read again. Instead, we are to meditate on that day’s reading throughout the day.

I find the best way to begin meditating on a text is either to memorize it, put it in my own words, write a journal entry, or a blog post. Once I do one of those, I find I am able to think about my reading for the remainder of the day.

Why Meditate?

You might be wondering: Why do I need to do this? Isn’t reading God’s Word enough? Yes, reading God’s Word is a good practice. But the reason we are to take this extra step is so that we can come to a better understanding of how the Bible applies to our life so that we can better serve God by living accordingly.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you take the time to meditate on God’s Word?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What should we do with the Bible?

Meditating on Scripture

How often do you read your Bible? When you read it, do you spend time thinking through what the Lord is saying or is it something you desire to check off of a list? Reading Scripture is important, but it is even more important we spend time meditating on what we have read.

The Importance of Meditating on Scripture

In Joshua chapter 1 we are told why it is important we meditate on Scripture. Before Joshua crossed over to take the land of Canaan God said to him:

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 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 1:7-8).

It is here we learn the importance of meditating on the Word of the Lord, so that we may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.

A Way to Glorify God

If we want to be a people whose lives glorify God, then we must live in a God glorifying way, but we can’t live lives that glorify God if we do not know what it is that glorifies Him. We are not without hope though because God has left us His Word, so that we will know how to live in order to glorify Him. So then, reading and meditating on Scripture is a necessity if we want to live lives that glorify God. Reading Scripture is important so we are familiar with what it says. Meditating on Scripture is important so that it saturates our thinking.

Challenge

May we all heed the command the Lord gave to Joshua to meditate on the Word of the Lord day and night, so that we may be careful to do according to all that is written in it and glorify God.

Christian Meditation: What is it and what does it involve?

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.

Scripture

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.

Meditation Enhances

(1) Your Prayer Life

(2) Your Personal Reading of the Word

(3) Your Hearing The Word Preached

Conclusion

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.

Resource

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.