The reason we come away so cold from reading the word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fires of meditation – Thomas Watson (Puritan preacher and author, 1620-1686)
If you were honest, how would you describe your time in God’s word? A drudgery or a delight? A chore or a gift? The reality is many Christians find reading God’s word to be more of a duty than a relief. While knowing it is beneficial, we often relate to it as a necessity for spiritual growth rather than a gift of grace.
Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:2-3 (CSB)
1Peter 2:2-3 instructs us to take in God’s word, but not as a religious burden. Peter teaches that we should desire God’s word as a baby desires milk: earnestly, longingly, affectionately. And this will be possible, he says, if we have known the kindness of God through personal experience. This last statement is very helpful. While it’s possible for us to naturally grasp the benefits of Bible intake, we can not generate affection for God or His word in our hearts. Delight in God, is a gift from God.
This does not mean that we are without responsibility. Delight is NOT a passively acquired trait, which we receive apart from a habit of consistent reading. Rather as we travel paths ordained by God, in anticipation of meeting with Him, the gift of delight grows in us. One of those well traveled paths throughout church history is scripture meditation.
Meditation is modeled throughout the Bible (see Joshua 1:8, Psalm 143:5, Philippians 4:8) and is far different from the customs of eastern religions. Those practices aim to clear ones mind in order to find inner peace. On the contrary, Christian meditation is about filling your mind with God’s word, so that you might know Christ more deeply. Meditation in the Old Testament means to mutter or to muse; the implication is that we linger over the Bible through thoughtful deliberation and speak it to ourself.
So how do we meditate? The following steps are not a divinely inspired formula. But they are means adapted from Biblical principles and taught by many historical church sources:
- Read a short passage multiple times and speak it loud enough for your ears to hear it. Emphasize different words and note the surrounding context.
- Write the passage out. Define key phrases and consider their negative (or opposite state). Jot down questions or thoughts and rewrite the passage in your own words.
- Memorize and sing the passage. Meditation can infer melody, as in Psalm 19:14. Use these tools to recall the passage throughout the day.
- Pray the passage, through praises and requests. Seek personal application and pray it for others that come to mind. Consider texting them so that they know you are praying.
If you are trying scripture meditation for the first time, we would love to hear how it is going. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org