Meditation has gotten a bad rap. Many people think it refers to sitting cross-legged on the floor humming, emptying out the mind (maybe while playing bizarre music or taking drugs) so that random thoughts from the universe may pop into the head.
Actually, meditation is a good thing, and the Bible talks about it often. Rather than wiping the mind clean, Biblical meditation is all about filling the mind with godly thoughts. God said to Joshua, “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” (1:7-8).
God didn’t intend for Joshua to become a bookworm—he had a lot of soldiering to do! But God made it clear that He wanted Joshua to make time to read it; to read it more than once; to read it in the morning and read it in the evening; to refer back to it every time he faced a decision.
All of us would benefit from a Bible reading schedule, so that reading becomes regular part of our day. Start over at page one, or pick a particular book and read it more carefully. You always discover something new each time you read. David said, “my eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on your word” (Psalm 119:148).
I am liable to zone out while reading (or driving); my eyes are still scanning the words, but my brain is somewhere else. I will suddenly snap to, and realize that I haven’t absorbed the last few paragraphs. Pick a time of day to do our Bible reading when you are able to focus; not when you are physically drained, mentally distracted, or falling asleep.
Pause while reading to think about what you have just read. Meditating on God’s word takes longer than skimming the newspaper. Ponder the lessons of the text. Does it apply to you? How does it apply to you? What demands does it make upon your life?
Maybe it is simply a beautiful passage of Scripture. Stop to appreciate it, like a majestic mountainscape or a beautiful jewel. David said, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts” (Psalm 119:14–16).
A pencil and notebook are helpful tools. Underline important passages. Write notes in the margin. Link to similar or explanatory passages. Jot down questions for further research.
Bible study and prayer go hand in hand. Psalm 4:4 says, “Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.” David felt threatened by life, but when he read and thought about God’s promises, and prayed to God, it calmed him down. Prayer moves from learning into believing. “I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands” (Psalm 143:5). “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate” (Psalm 145:5).
After reading, decide to act and change. Courageously apply the lessons of the text. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:21–22). “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man…” (Matt. 7:24–27). The word of God is inspired, and if we will cooperate, it “performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).
It’s easy to forget last week’s sermon—it’s easy for me to forget my own! Meditation helps us gain lasting benefit from our reading and studying.
We must strive to commit the lessons of God’s word to memory. The exact words may not come to mind, but the lesson of the passage and where it’s located ought to be added to the edifice of spiritual knowledge. Actually, on many occasions, it would be helpful to memorize the words themselves.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by steams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1).