Meditation and contemplation are neglected yet necessary activities in our age. Mysticism has gripped the heart of many as there are those that are looking for a tangible practice for their faith and are thus lead astray into error and the invention of man. There are, however, very real spiritual practices that Christians should participate in. One such activity is to meditate upon the scriptures. There are many scriptures that speak to this practice, one is Psalm 1:2 that says of the blessed man, “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The word of God is constantly on his mind, day and night to think upon. Realize that biblical meditation is filling your mind with biblical truths, it is contemplation, not emptying your mind like some sort of mystical practice. In our age of instant response, instant gratification, and thoughtless social media participation, we need biblical meditation perhaps more than ever. We need to have time to ponder, think, and understand deeply biblical truths, both for our good and also so that we may respond and act in wiser ways. Here are six ways in which you can grow in meditating on God’s word.
1. Praying the Scriptures – The scriptures are the perfect source to learn to meditate for in them we understand God from his own inspired text. The scriptures promote their own contemplation and especially when they are coupled with our prayers. When we pray the scriptures it will shape our thoughts, and it will also change the way we pray to be more in line with God’s law, will and grace. The Psalms are especially helpful as they shape our mind and thinking.
2. Memorization – When we memorize we are forced to repeat something over and over again until it can stick into our long or short term memory. Memorization need not be a rote exercise but as you memorize a passage think upon what it really means. Memorize with the goal of finding the many ways in which that text applies to life and speaks of who God is. By repeatedly going over verses in our minds it keeps them in the forefront of our thoughts.
3. Topic Association – Focus on a topic, it may be from systematic theology, life events or even politics and think of every biblical truth from memory that associates with it. The point is not to do an internet search for a definitive list of verses, rather it is relying on the word you have hidden in your heart. You may not know the exact reference or may need to paraphrase in your mind what you know is true, but take them and think upon how they relate to the thing you are meditating upon.
4. Ten Commandments & Lord’s Prayer – These two things have been the foundation of Christian discipleship for thousands of years. For the Ten Commandments, think about each commandment and what it tells you about God. Think about what it tells you about yourself and how the fullness of it is seen in the heart not only in the action and in the New Testament. In like manner, take the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer, such as “thy kingdom come” and ponder what that means in it’s fullness.
5. Teach or Write – When we prepare to teach or to write we are forced to think upon the topic more. Get a text, saturate in it, marinate in it, read it over and over again. As you do you will think upon it and find connections and insights you never have before. Take one passage and stew over it for a week and then write. The purpose is not journaling stray thoughts, but to ponder deeply what it means and then produce something meaningful from those thoughts
6. Use a Catechism or Confession – Take a catechism questions or a confessional section and then think upon that truth throughout the day. Read the verses associated with it and grab one of them to remember over and over again as you go about your tasks. While some of the truths may seem simple, it is in the remembering of those simple truths where sanctification really comes in. When we ponder in this way we change from merely consumers of other’s thoughts to producers of our own.
When to Meditate: Meditation takes time, it is not something that can be done instantly nor quickly. Meditation should happen at times when you can be alone and you can just have your thoughts and the scriptures. Take your favorite drink or snack, sit on your front or back porch, thank God for their enjoyment, and then sit and think. This can be a refreshing time to be alone in your thoughts, away from emails, phone calls, and social media to really ponder God’s holy word. You can also take a topic or verse and contemplate upon it with others. Think with them of its ramifications and connection to other truths, not to come up with some anti-textual ideas, but to sharpen one another in your thinking. Also asking questions of others, including those who you may disagree with are helpful. This is not for debate, but to expose yourself to other thoughts than what you may be used to. You may not be convinced of their perspective, but when you leave to be with your own thoughts, think about why you don’t and what the proper view is biblically.
It is good to have set times to think and meditate upon the word. And if it is not something you make time for, especially by turning off electronic communication, then it will not often happen. But It is also good to use down time, like when you are driving, washing dishes or doing a menial task to think and ponder. You can use your mind while you are using your hands to meditate upon the scriptures. I am sure there are many other ways to contemplate on God’s truth, but these are a few that I have found to be helpful. I hope you place biblical meditation into your life as an important and highly valuable activity for your Christian walk.