I have never meditated and I guess now I know why. Through my recent study of the subject I have learned there are two extreme camps in the Christian community when it comes to meditation: those who believe it is always wrong and those who have adopted a Christianized mystical form of meditation which involves mind emptying and repetition. Since meditation is mentioned in all versions of the Bible (including 17 times in the ESV) I am on a quest to find Truth. If God’s Word urges us to meditate, what is God wanting us to do and how can we implement this into our own lives?
What is Biblical Meditation?
Let’s begin by looking at passages which use the term. Probably the most familiar Scripture mentioning meditation is Joshua 1:8.
Joshua 1:8: 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; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Here God’s followers are encouraged to meditate both day and night so they would have greater ability to do what is written in God’s law.
Fourteen of the 17 references to meditation are found in the Psalms where the writer meditates on God’s statutes, precepts, mighty deeds, and law. Here is one example:
Psalm 119:99: I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
What Does Meditation Mean?
Meditation means “the act of focusing one’s thoughts: to ponder, think on, muse.” Meditation consists of reflective thinking or contemplation, usually on a specific subject to discern its meaning or significance or a plan of action.
Some synonyms would be contemplation, reflection, rumination, deep thinking, or remembering in the sense of keeping or calling something to mind for the purpose of consideration, reflection, or meditation.
What should be the Subject of my Meditation?
As I mentioned previously, in the Psalms we see the writer meditates on God’s statutes, precepts, mighty deeds, and law. For us we can meditate on not just God’s laws (Old Testament) but all of Scripture.
God’s Deeds. We can focus on mighty deeds God has done in our own personal lives, those close to us, and deeds God did in Bible times.
Music. We can let the words of a doctrinally sound Christian song permeate our hearts.
Redeemed positive thinking. Here are items Scripture tells us specifically to think about in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Character trait. If there is a sin issue, Fruit of the Spirit, or character trait in your own life that needs particular attention do a search through a resource such as Biblegateway.com and select a Scripture based on the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Four Steps to Meditating on Scripture:
- Select a Scripture
- Observe the context before and after the Scripture
- Study the meaning of the Scripture
- Absorb the Scripture through repetition
One thing unique to Biblical meditation is it is focused thinking as opposed to mind clearing. Also the point of Biblical meditation is not peace. If a desire for peace is the driving force it is the wrong end. That is self-focused. The end should be a closer relationship with Christ and to glorify God with our minds. This is Christ-focused. Peace is a by-product of the experience. Over the next 30 days we will be selecting one Scripture or topic per week as our focus. For the next seven days focus on the Scripture below.
This Week’s Meditation Assignment:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
*Make index cards with this passage on them and place them around the house. Make this Scripture your “go to” when your mind in wandering. If possible, memorize this passage by the end of the week. (If desired, you may download this Philippians Meditation Cards PDF file with this week’s Scripture.)
*Read the entire fourth chapter of Philippians. What is the context? Who are these verses written to?
*Go to Biblegateway.com or another resource which contains Bible commentaries. Read the notes from 2 or 3 commentaries on the Philippians 4:4-7 passage.
*Sit in a quiet room in a comfortable position. Read over the passage four times. Observe a phrase which stands out to you. Ask the Lord for wisdom in this area. Perhaps do a word study of a particular word such as rejoice, anxiety, peace or supplication.
*Pray through the passage and then “let your requests be made known to God.” Ask the Lord to help your heart and desires correspond with His desires.
For more information on living the peace-filled Christian life, read Discovering Inner Peace. For more information on Biblical Meditation, read How Can You Meditate on God’s Word from Bible Gateway or this in-depth article Biblical Meditation from Bible.org.
Coming Week 2 of the 30 Day Biblical Meditation Challenge: the Whole Armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-17.