Do you ever feel like you “missed” what you just read in the Bible - even after spending time in the Word at length?
It’s easy to do, especially if you’re like me and are following a Bible in a Year plan that requires multiple chapters to be read per day.
While it is important to read the Bible in its entirety, we also must remember to slow down and focus on the text. It’s for this reason that over the past month the Lord has called me to slow down and pause to let the truth of God’s Word soak in.
How? By meditating on His Word.
Yup, I went there.
Can Christians Meditate?
The word “meditate” sometimes has a bad reputation in the Christian community, and if you don’t properly understand what it means to biblically meditate, it’s easy to see why.
Images of someone with their eyes closed and legs crossed may come to mind. Or perhaps you picture a yoga instructor teaching her class different chants as they move into a downward dog pose.
While Eastern religions such as Buddhism meditate as a form of emptying the mind to focus on the soul, we as Christians get the great joy of filling our minds with God’s Word so that His truth will soak in.
In a world like ours, where culture tells us that truth is relative and deconstructionism is at an all time high, could anything be more important than calling to mind God’s truth and allowing it to dwell within us - as often as possible?
What the Bible Says About Meditation
While the above may just be my opinion, should we not heed to the command God gave Joshua to “meditate on the Word day and night”? (Joshua 1:8).
Before we go further let’s start with a prayer. If God’s Word is not the desire and delight of your heart, plead with Him until he grants your request.
Heavenly Father, let your Word be the great desire and delight of my heart today so that I may know you better and walk according to your ways. Amen.
Meditation: What is it?
In the Old Testament, two Hebrew words are translated “meditate.” One suggests a low pitch muttering sound (hagah) while the other (siach) means to be concerned about or absorbed with something.
Thus meditation is the repetitious going over a biblical text while quietly vocalizing it repeatedly. The constant focus of meditation is on God himself, His glory and majesty, deeds and ways, promises and purposes.
J. I. Packer says that meditation is the practice of turning each truth we learn about God into matter for reflection before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.
“Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God… It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.” (Packer, J I: Knowing God)
The desired outcome? To know God better, love him more deeply, experience closer fellowship with Him and live for His glory.Charles Spurgeon says it this way: “Have you a spiritual taste, dear Hearer? It is one thing to hear the Word. It is another thing to taste it.”
In order to become more Christlike and fulfill God’s purpose for our lives, we must do more than skim through a few Psalms or check off day 3 of our newest devotional. Beloved, we must slow down in a way that allows us to not just hear the Word but taste it too.
How to Start Meditating on God's Word
If you would like to practice the spiritual discipline of meditating on God's word, here are 4 steps to get started.
Similarly to the cow’s process of mastication (chewing), we should process God’s food slowly and deliberately. This “divine thought digestion” occurs usually as we are reading through a passage and something jumps out at us in our spirit.
Make a mental note and return once you have finished reading the passage.
After reading through 1 Timothy 4 recently, verse 16 really jumped out at me:
Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Of the entire chapter, verse 16 was what I spent the most time on. Go to the passage that stood out to you and read it aloud, slowly and thoroughly.
As you read and reread the passage, practice placing emphasis on individual words in the text. Ask God to reveal what this passage is saying and why He brought your attention to it.
Think of how a jeweler carefully examines a diamond. He looks at it over and over and over until he knows the cut, clarity, color and carat. When you begin analyzing the passage at hand, ask God to reveal to you what He is saying in His Word.
Why did God make me pause when I read “Pay close attention to your life” and “persevere in these things?” In this passage, Paul is clearly giving Timothy instructions, so how is this relevant right now based on that context?
Start by placing who you are and what you do next to the passage and ask God to examine you.
“Lord, am I paying close attention to my life? How is the way I’m living reflective of what you’ve called me to do? Where do I need to persevere? What things am I giving up on instead of persevering? What would it look like to persevere in those things?
As you continue chewing, examining and meditating on the passage, you will see how it naturally leads into prayer. Use the passage to structure your prayer.
Oh Lord, what does it look like to pay close attention to my life? Am I being careless with what you’ve given me? What areas of my heart are lazy or perhaps apathetic instead of persevering? Will you give me your strength today? Please remind me that this isn’t just for my good but for those you place around me. Oh God, I am so in need of your grace. Let your presence me known in me today to all of those I encounter. Amen.
As you pray based on the passage, other texts that you’ve memorized may come to mind to help support your plea.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)
4. Live it Out/Action
If we walk away from this time with the Lord - especially if we have a "mountaintop experience” - it may be easy to stop with prayer (or praise). But we must finish by asking what we ought to be believing, thinking and now doing as a result of what was just revealed in our hearts.
Start by taking notes on what God revealed (an important reason why the Kairos Journal was created!) and how you can apply them practically into your life right now!
If it was regarding forgiveness, forgive immediately! Repentance? Get on your knees! Angry about something? Confess now and ask for forgiveness!
Andrew Murray said it best when is said: "Holding the Word of God in your heart until it has affected every phase of your life… this is meditation."
The Word of God should affect every part of your life; both inside (privately) and out (publicly)!
Thoughts on Christian Meditation
Regardless of whether or not you are ready to jump into the consistent, deliberate discipline of meditating, here are a few things to keep in mind.
The first is that our heart’s motivation must be pure. We meditate because we thirst for God and simply desire to commune with Him. If this isn’t the case, pray that the Lord would “grant you purity of heart, so that you may honor Him.” (Psalm 86:11b)
Secondly, while meditation is a mental activity involving focused thought, it will be fruitless without the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate God’s truths found in His Word.
“Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction.” (Psalm 119:18)
Lastly, one of the biggest hindrances will be the enemy’s lie that “you’re too busy.” We make time for the things we want to make time for.
So if you consistently watch an hour or two of Netflix each night, try giving God part of that time. It could be 5 minutes to start or it could be 30, either way, make a commitment to Him and be intentional with the time.
Find a quiet place, bring your bible, pen, Kairos journal and leave the phone behind. I promise, it will be worth it.
If you give it a try, comment below & let us know! How do you meditate on God's word? If you struggle to practice this spiritual discipline, what do you think is holding you back?