As Christians many of us read our Bibles and pray, but are we meditating on God’s Word? And do we even know what this means? When the Lord called Joshua to lead Israel after Moses’ death, He told him, “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 in it” (Josh. 1:8). The Lord wanted to fill Joshua’s heart with the Word so he would know precisely what to do and how to lead the people according to God’s standards and commands. And that’s exactly what He wants to do in our lives as well. If we’ll meditate on Scripture, the Lord will unfold for us His truths and instructions.
Meditation is a gratifying and rewarding experience that increases our intimacy with the Lord and our fascination with the Bible as we hear Him speak to us personally through His Word. God has also given us His indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to interpret Scripture rightly and empowers us to apply it to our lives.
God desires that our lives be victorious over every attack of the enemy. His Word, when meditated and spoken in faith, transforms our lives on a daily basis. We have so much more than Joshua or David had. We have Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Word, living in every believer. Day by day, hour by hour, we may draw from His life-giving Spirit as we meditate on God’s Word (John 6:63).
Psalm 119:15 instructs believers to “meditate on [God’s] precepts and consider [God’s] ways.”
Meditation involves three activities.
- Shut out the world. That means no television, phone calls, or other outside distractions.
- Shut ourselves up to God. Meditation is not a group activity but a private time alone with the Lord.
- Focus our attention on a passage of Scripture. This is not just a casual reading of God’s Word before heading out the door, but a private conversation with the Lord. We begin by asking Him to reveal what He wants to say to us. Then we listen for His instructions and guidance while reading, thinking, and praying about the passage.
The words of Scripture are living words. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). They contain eternal wisdom held in the shell of human words. God wants us to “break open” these human words and begin to discover the rich wealth of personal application and understanding that they hold. This goal can be accomplished as you memorize and meditate on Scripture.
The Apostle Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you [live in you] richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). Meditation on Scripture will cause Scripture to “dwell in you” and become a source of wisdom in your mind, will, and emotions.
Your times of meditation should be times of worship and fellowship with God. Worship God in your spirit as you quote God’s Word back to Him. “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8). Reverence God’s Word.
As you meditate, don’t be discouraged if you have to go over the passage several times before insights begin to come to mind. As God reveals an insight to you, pray it back to Him and ask Him for the grace to apply that truth in your life. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin in your life, confess it to the Lord and be forgiven.
Turn the Scripture into a first-person prayer back to God. Personalize it by putting it in the first person, using I, me, and my. For example, Colossians 3:16 (quoted above) could be personalized by saying, “Let the word of Christ dwell in ME richly in all wisdom.” When you put Scripture in the first person, it becomes a living expression within your heart, which is one aspect of meditation.
“Martin Luther, one of the pivotal figures of church history, gave detailed instructions on how to meditate … . ‘You should meditate not only in your heart, but also externally, by actually repeating and comparing oral speech and literal words of the book, reading and rereading them with diligent attention and reflection, so you may see what the Holy Spirit means by them.’ ” (Doug McIntosh,God Up Close: How to Meditate on His Word, Moody Press, Chicago, Ill., 1998, 65.)
Effective meditation has four requirements.
- Priority. The devil will try to thwart our efforts to focus on God’s Word because he knows we are absorbing it into our souls. If meditation is not a priority in our lives, we probably won’t do it.
- Place. We need a private place to meet alone with God.
- Purpose. The purpose of meditation is to hear from the Lord. When we concentrate on His Word and seek His guidance, He sometimes uses very specific passages of Scriptures to answer our requests. Once we’ve understood what He’s told us, our trust in Him increases and our worries lessen.
- Plan. We must set aside a time to meet with the Lord privately to read His Word, ask for direction, and listen for His voice. This opportunity to be alone with Him will soon become the most precious part of each day as we learn to know almighty God more intimately and hear Him speak to us personally through Scripture.