Practices in Faith: Meditation and the Bible

“…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalms 1:2

If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word “meditate,” one of the first images that comes to your mind is of candles, “oms”, and a search for inner peace.

Of course, none of these are inherently bad, but they portray a false impression of biblical meditation.

While traditional Eastern meditation is focused on clearing your mind and finding an inward sense of peace, biblical meditation focuses on the Law of God.

“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 what is written in it…” 

Joshua 1:8

The “Law” in this passage (and in others) refers not just to the ten commandments or the Mosaic law, but to scripture as a whole; the promises, commands, and records of God’s activity. 

“The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”

Psalms 19:7-9

These descriptions of the Law of God completely encompass everything we deem desirable. What more could we ask? They endure forever, are righteous, and rejoice the heart. We literally find joy by meditating on the Law. It makes wise the simple and enlightens the eyes.

“Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”

1 Samuel 12:24

There are several passages within scripture that give us a reason why we should meditate. In Deuteronomy 10:21-22, Moses reminds us that the Israelites went to Egypt as seventy people, and left “as numerous as the stars”. Philippians 2:8 states:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

What greater act could God have done for us, than to give us His only Son, and through Him, save us from our own sin. These reasons alone stand out to me as reason enough to meditate; to stop and consider the great love with which Christ died for us. 

Reasons aren’t enough, though. Even if you’ve decided to meditate, it will mean nothing if you don’t know how to meditate. If you don’t teach yourself how to do something, and do it wrong, it won’t benefit you the way it should—or at least, not nearly as well as it has the potential to. 

Discovering how to meditate can be a challenge in and of itself. To help you get started, here are five general steps to a healthy meditation routine.

Examine Scripture Often

Reading the Bible is a rather crucial aspect of biblical meditation. It’s important to have a recent familiarity with the passages you are attempting to meditate on. This will remind you of the presence of God, the “now-ness” of God, and help you understand as you read.

My favorite example of meditation is referenced by Paul in Acts 17.

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Acts 17:11

“Examining” is a strong word to use, and it is used quite intentionally. We aren’t meant to simply read a passage and think fleetingly on its surface meaning, but instead to deeply study the words taught in the Bible. 

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

2 Timothy 3:16 

These God-breathed words are meant to be examined “with all eagerness.” 

A post by David Mathis on Desiring God states, “God wants our sitting down with His book each day to be more like coming to dinner than going to the grocery store. Don’t try to save up truth for tomorrow, come to enjoy Him today.” 

Meditation is an enjoyable experience, a gathering with our heavenly Father for communion and fellowship. But it does require a certain amount of focus and intention.

Observe and Understand the Context

No verse in scripture stands on its own. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read the surrounding verses in order to fully understand the one verse that catches your attention. 

Look at the verses before and after the paragraph, the chapter, and even the book of the Bible that your verse is in. Who wrote the book? Who did they write it to? What was their purpose for writing it? Was it being well received and why? What is the overall theme of the section? 

Taking the section as a whole will give you a fuller understanding of the passage itself, I promise. It may not be a complete understanding, but it will definitely help shed light on whatever the verse’s intention may be.

Use What You Learn

The Bible was not written exclusively to the early church. If it were, it would not have survived as wholly as it has through the last two thousand years (since the birth of Christ). There have historically been tens, even hundreds of attempts to eradicate scripture. Obviously, and thankfully, they all failed.

That being said, there must be some reason God has preserved this ancient text. 

I remember when I was about seven years old, my dad’s jeep caught on fire. The whole interior was destroyed, as well as pretty much anything that was inside. We found, though, a Bible—one we didn’t even know was in there—that completely survived the fire. Besides some black around the outsides of the pages, the Bible was completely whole.

Mark 13:31 states, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” In His own words, God claimed the Bible will not perish, but last so others can read and believe in its teachings. Leaders such as Diocletian and Antiochus Epiphanes ordered the destruction of the New Testament, yet it survives. 

So take a look at the passage before you and see how it applies to you and your current situation. Maybe it is simply intended to give you a better perspective on faith, on Christ, or on the purpose of the writer. Whatever you may learn from it, the Bible is our guide for life, our connection to our Father, and the most secure place to seek comfort and understanding.  

Pray and Connect

The Bible is God’s words to us and is His communication with us. While “the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the works of His hands” (Ps 19:1), we have the privilege of hearing from our God directly through scripture. “All scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim 3:16) and we shouldn’t take for granted the fact that it’s there. 

We have a mediator through Christ, who intercedes for us to the Father. Connecting with Him through prayer is a gift and is our way of communicating with our God what we have learned about Him and where we seek more understanding. 

Don’t Leave It Behind!

So often, we become filled with purpose and inspiration from a Bible study or a church service, leave motivated to reach the whole world with the gospel or change everything about our habits and relationships, only to turn around and get crushed by the duties of daily life. That inspiration we found becomes forgotten, and we become distracted by the responsibilities before us. 

This scenario is detrimental to our spiritual journey in faith. If we don’t hold these teachings fast in our minds everyday and neglect building a strong personal relationship with God, we will fall further and further away from His grace. 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love… for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

2 Peter 1:5-10

God is for us. With Him we cannot fail, but we may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Only through Christ and meditating on God’s word can we truly clear our hearts and minds of all evil and achieve a real, lasting sense of inner peace.

A Prayer for All Us Mountain Goats

I pray that as Christians, we all gain a personal hunger to meditate on scripture, and that we truly build a desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I pray the Spirit communicates clearly with us, so that we may understand what we read, so we may apply it to our daily lives. And lastly, I pray that we appreciate the gift of communion with our Father, and thank God for opening up a path of communication and thanks, and His enlightenment through Scripture.

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Supporting Verses

Philippians 4:8
Job 22:21-26
Philippians 3:1
Philippians 4:4
Matthew 6:33
Psalms 37:4
Job 37:14
Psalms 119:97
Psalms 104
Psalms 19:14
Psalms 19:2
Numbers 4:10

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!

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