Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. — Joshua 1:8
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. — Psalm 1:1-3
Meditation (from a Christian perspective) is not focussed on our individual self but rather it is: focussed thinking on God and His Word.
Think of a sponge getting dipped into a bucket of water. The longer the sponge is immersed in the water, the more the water will saturate the sponge. Too often we read God’s Word and quickly ‘leave’ the words we read, not allowing them to saturate our hearts and minds. Meditating on Scripture is about focussing, connecting, understanding, recalling, and planting God’s Word deep into your heart and mind.
As we practice meditating on Scripture, one of the first and greatest connections we will find is to that of prayer! God’s Word is vital to our prayers. As we hear and understand what God is saying in His Word it will begin to prompt a response…it will lead to prayer!
At times your meditation of God’s Word will:
• Remind you of something of God’s incredible character that will lead you to praise and adore Him
• Convict you of God’s call and your shortcoming of it that will lead you to confess before Him
• Reveal to you something of God’s love and mercy that will lead you to thank Him
• Teach you more about God’s Kingdom that will spur you into action
• Plant a verse that will stick with you throughout your day, week, life, helping to ground your thoughts and attitude to your identity in Jesus
In other words, meditating on Scripture should lead to prayer, obedience, and ultimately becoming more like Jesus!
Does this sound like a difficult, vague practice? It certainly isn’t! There are many different ways we can meditate on Scripture. Below are a few suggestions.
The first thing to keep in mind, a good rule of thumb is when reading God’s Word, read longer sections, and when meditating, narrow down to shorter sections. Read longer, meditate shorter. For example, let’s say you are reading through John chapter 3 in your devotional time. As you read chapter 3 (in total it is 36 verses), you realize that verse 3 jumps out to you: Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Rather than rush through and check off the box of reading your Bible that day, why not focus in on verse 3, meditate on what God wants to say to you through it?
Here are a few suggestions of ways in which you can do that:
1. Memorize the verse This is not as challenging as you might think. Just think of all the songs you can perfectly quote without much effort! The brain has an incredible ability to remember when it is trained through repetition. Taking time to memorize God’s Word plants the truth deep in your memory and even regular thought-life. You will be amazed how often those memorized verses will return to the surface of your thoughts…just like those song lyrics!
2. Focus on one word/phrase at a time Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are BORN AGAIN, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot SEE the Kingdom of God.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the KINGDOM OF GOD.” Spend time reflecting on each of the emphasized words/phrases and any connections that come to mind as you reflect. For example: Do I really know what Jesus meant when he said “born again”?
3. Paraphrase the verse(s) Restating the verse(s) in your own words is a great way to know if you understand the meaning of what is being said. It can also help you to dwell on the truth of it in a deeper way.
4. Think of an illustration/image for the verse As you read the verse, does it make you think “This reminds me of…”? It could be a story, an analogy, or an image/picture that you can sketch.
5. Pray through the verse Ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to see the truth in God’s Word but also the truth of your heart, soul, and mind today. We can pray through the verse as David prayed:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. — Psalm 139:23-24
For more great guidance on Meditating on Scripture, check out “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S. Whitney. Some of the content for this post was inspired by this book.