What it is...
To become so immersed in the Bible that it changes our hearts and affects the way we live (Prov. 4:20-23). In Jn 6:63, we read that the words of God are spirit and life, our spiritual food to sustain us throughout our lives. (Mt. 4:4, Heb. 5:13,14, 1.Pt. 2:2). Meditation is rather like chewing that food so that we obtain the goodness it contains. It enables us to feed on Christ Himself. (Jer. 15:16, Eze. 3:1-3; Jn 6:35).
Bishop Joseph Hall said of Bible Meditation:
“Learn it if you can, neglect it if you so desire, but he who does so shall never find joy – neither in God, nor in himself.”
It will result in:-
- spiritual growth and fruitfulness (Ps. 1:3, Jer 17:8)
- spiritual strength (Ps. 1:3, Eph 3:16)
- success in all you do (Jos. 1:8,9)
- cleansing, and a life pleasing to God (Ps. 119:9,11)
- wisdom, not natural intelligence (Ps. 119:99)
- fresh “food” for self and others (Isa 58:7, Lk 11:5-8)
- hearing God’s voice (Jn 10:27)
- Christ-likeness (2 Cor 3:18)
- Renewing of the mind and the new nature that God has given us (Rom 12:2, 2 Cor. 4:16, Col 3:16)
- abiding in Christ (Jn 15:5-7)
- fulfilment of the new covenant (Heb. 8:10-12)
- the experience of “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27) and for me to live in Christ (Phil. 1:21)
What it is not...
- Transcendental Meditation. This and similar kinds are dangerous and should not be attempted.
- Letting your mind go blank.
- A keep fit exercise.
- Bible study as such – but more about this later.
How to start....
Here are some BE-Attitudes
- BE awake. Do not fall asleep and so miss what God has for you (Prov. 20:13)
- BE repentant. Make sure you have confessed all known sins to God. (Ps 66:18, 1 Jn 1:8,9)
- BE still before God (Ps. 46:10)
- “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you.” (1 Pt 5:7) “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isa 30:15) An anxious spirit cannot hear God easily.
- BE comfortable!
- BE humble (1Pt 5:5,6). We do not deserve anything from God, although he is longing to give.
- BE hungry for God. (Ps. 132:15; Mt 5:6; Lk 1:53)
- BE dependant on Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to your heart. (Jn 16:13,14; Eph 1:17,18) Ask him to lead you.
- BE persevering. Don’t give up. Ask and go on asking, seek and go on seeking, knock and go on knocking. (Lk 11:9.13); Believe that God will teach you.
- BE obedient. (Acts 5:32) Are you willing to obey what God may say to you?
- BE disciplined. Set aside a time and stick to it. “In his law he meditates day and night” – or continually. (Ps 1:2)
Where do I start?
- Ask God to show you the book or the passage in which He wants you to meditate. (The gospels of Mark ans John are good for the beginner). A suggested time is at least twenty minutes. Progress through a book rather than jumping around the Bible from verse to verse.
And what do I do?
- Read the section several times, thinking about it, “chewing” it. Come to that each day (the beginning of the day is best) until it seems that the Lord has nothing more to say from it for the time being, or until it seems time to move on.
- Use your mind; follow particular lines of thought for your life. Ask yourself: “What does this mean for my life?”. What do other scriptures say? – Use a cross-reference, a concordance and a dictionary if they would be helpful. Use different translations too.
- Remember: To understand something is only the beginning of Meditation. The work is only complete when what God has shown you is translated into action. This will take time.
- Turn your meditation into prayer. Writing it down will help you to remember it. Look for opportunities to share it with others. (Isa 50:4, Mt. 10:27) Do not be afraid to share with someone of more experience when in difficulty. Meditation with others in a group gives more blessing.
Here is one person’s meditation on one particular morning. It is by no means all that can be found in the passage. To another person, in different circumstances, the Lord may say something different. What does he say to you from the same passage? When you have read this, ask Him for yourself, write it down, and don’t be afraid to use your imagination.
(A prayer first to commit yourself to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and to know that God Himself wants to speak to me this morning through his word)
Passage chosen: Psalm 1 – Portion for today: Ps. 1:1-3
Having read the verses a few times slowly my thoughts begin to focus on verse 2:-
“His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night”.
- and in particular on the word: “delight”.
(I wonder what the dictionary says, so I look up “delight”) Please greatly; take or find great pleasure in; be highly pleased to..
Is my relationship with God like that? Or is it a drudgery and a duty? What should I be like? – Knowing the King of kings is a privilege that I should value highly; having fellowship with Him daily should be a joy. However, in times of difficulty I tend to complain and blame God.
How ought I to cope with such times? Remembering that Jesus is my example, what difficult times did he have and how did he face them?
...Are there other scriptures which I can think of to help me here? – Yes! Heb. 12:2 and Mt. 25:21. The only way that Jesus could suffer victoriously in the will of God was by looking to the joys of heaven ahead. I need to do the same, and to set my mind on receiving God’s approval for the way I have lived.
(I then want to know if there is more from scripture than I remembered, so I turn in a concordance to the word delight and look up Ps. 40:8) Is obeying God a delight for me? (“I delight to do your will, O my God.”)? – Ah! Ouch! That stung! How can my attitude change? – By God’s law being in my heart. (Yes your law is in my heart!) How can it get there? – through meditation. (..in His law he meditates day and night..). I.e. it is through meditating on the Bible, which contains God’s law, that I come to delight in God as a person, to know him and to follow Him willingly. This alters considerably also, my attitude to the Bible!
What action must I take? – Do everything joyfully for Him.
I memorise the phrase, “I delight to do your will, O my God”, for further meditation throughout the day.
Other approaches to the Bible
These should be practiced along with Bible meditation and may overlap with it.
- In READING we get an overall perspective of the Bible. (Isa 34:16)
- In HEARING the word preached, we receive faith and correction. (Rom 10:17)
- In STUDYING God’s word, we obtain knowledge – about characters, themes, history etc. (2 Tim 2:15)
- In MEMORIZING God’s word we achieve accuracy in understanding and therefore in action, and it is imprinted in our subconscious mind.
- MEDITATION will convert these four disciplines from merely intellectual approaches into practical Christian living- “The Word made flesh” – Jesus (Jn 1:14)