How to Meditate on God’s Word
I love God’s Word and delight in its truth. Yet too often I find that after reading my Bible or hearing a sermon, the truth, so necessary to the well-being of my soul, can too easily slip away. The truth that had for a moment captured my attention and my affections can quietly fade amid the clutter and noise of the day.
One of the best ways to remedy this is to practice the spiritual discipline of meditating on God’s Word. It is a discipline that takes time and intention, but one that brings great benefit to the soul. We need to carve out time to lay hold of the truth of God’s Word.
It is a bewildering paradox of our day that the Bible can be so accessible and yet so marginalized. On the one hand our technology has brought God’s Word close at hand. It’s on our phones and tablets and computers and iPods. We have almost immediate access to several versions of the Bible as well as a wealth of sermons and commentaries. But this same technology also threatens to distract us and drown out God’s Word. We have become a culture obsessed with noise and comfortable with clutter. So many sources are bringing input into our lives: TV, radio, online news feeds, Facebook, Twitter…. More than ever we need to make time to meditate, to dwell in God’s Word.
Meditation is pondering the Word in our hearts, preaching it to our own souls, and personally applying it to our own lives and circumstances. It is how we sanctify our thinking and bring it into submission to Christ—taking every thought captive. Paul tells us in Romans 12:
Meditate to Focus
Whether we read the Bible in the morning, over our lunch break, or before bed at night, our schedules and responsibilities tend to assail us with distractions. In fact, distractions are a tool the enemy of our souls uses to take our eyes off Christ and to keep us from hearing God clearly in his Word.
Aleph says in Psalm 119 that he fixes his eyes on God’s ways. As wayward humans with many pursuits, temptations, and people vying for our attention, we are greatly helped by meditation, which leads us to fix our eyes on the Lord and tune out distractions…even if only for five or ten minutes. Focusing on what we are reading in the Bible provides us clarity when we enter into prayer.
Meditate to focus on how God is speaking to you through his living and active Word.
Meditate to Understand
When we meditate on the Word of God, we seek to understand how the God of the universe is speaking: about himself, about our world, and about our own hearts. We can begin our Bible reading by praying along with the Psalmist, “Make me understand your way!” God delights to answer this prayer.
Some questions to ask during meditation include: Why is this passage important? What do I need to know? What does it say about God? What does it say about me? How does this reading point to Jesus?
Meditate to understand what God is communicating to you through his Word.
Meditate to Remember
The whole Bible is one grand story that all the way through points to Jesus Christ. When we meditate on Scripture, we do so to remember all that God has done in his great redemption story and how he sent Christ to save a people from their sin. We ponder the work of God’s hands.
Remembering in meditation may also bring us to ponder all that God has done in our own lives: how he saved us in Christ, what opportunities he is giving us to share the Good News with others, and what we have learned about who God is throughout our days.
Meditate to remember all that God has done through the gospel of grace.
Meditate to Worship
Once we have meditated to focus, understand, and remember, we will find our hearts inclined to worship! So we pause in meditation to lift our gaze to the excellencies of Jesus Christ, to take our eyes off the world, and to express to him thanksgiving and adoration when we pray. Meditation leads to delight when the Holy Spirit inclines our hearts to understand how glorious our God is.
Because of sin and its effects, there will be times when our hearts do not feel like delighting in the reading of the Bible. During these moments, the temptation is to stop reading, lose focus, and move on to other activities. So meditation is also key to exhorting our hearts to delight in God’s Word, which is necessary for our spiritual strength and joy!
Meditate to worship the God who deserves all our thanks and praise for who he is and what he has done in Christ.
How can I meditate on Scripture?
The words of Scripture are living words. (See 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” (Colossi ans 3:16). Meditation on Scripture will cause Scripture to “dwell in you” and become a source of wisdom in your mind, will, and emotions.
Remember, meditation cannot be done in a hurry. It takes time. Doing studies on the meaning of a passage and committing it to memory prepare you to meditate on it. As you meditate, the Holy Spirit will teach you the ways of God through His Word. (See John 16:13.) Use the following keys to meditation:
Worship God in Your Spirit
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. Reverence God’s Word and purpose to “do according to all that is written therein” (Joshua 1:8).
Personalize the Passage
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, Colossi-ans 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.
Give Attention to Each Word of Each Verse
Focusing on one verse at a time, quote it to the Lord, pondering each word. With each recitation of a verse, emphasize a different word. For example, if you are meditating on John 3:16, you would emphasize a different word each time you repeated the passage:
Be attentive. This simple method of meditation will reveal new insights and give you greater understanding of phrases and sentences. As you hear the words of the passage, you will discern nuances and associations that are often overlooked when the passage is read silently.
“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.)
Illustrate the Main Concepts Found Within the Passage
As you memorize and meditate on a passage, look for Biblical concepts and patterns. Sometimes drawing simple illustrations with stick figures and symbols can help you remember the main ideas of the passage. Not only will the actual creation of the illustration help you further meditate on the meaning of the passage, but your illustration can serve as a simple summary of what the Lord taught you through meditation on His Word.
Each illustration should represent your current understanding of the action being described in the verse or phrase. As your understanding of the verse deepens, your illustrations will expand.
Meditate on Scripture as You Go to Sleep at Night
One of the most critical times to meditate on God’s Word is as you go to sleep each night. In Scripture, there are many references to meditating on Scripture at this time. (See Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, 63:6, and 119:148.)
The quiet moments of preparing for sleep offer an ideal setting for contemplation and fellowship with the Lord. The thoughts that are on your mind as you go to sleep will be in your subconscious mind all through the night. They will strongly influence your attitudes the next day, consciously or subconsciously.
Respond to God as He Teaches You
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 yo
This word siyach means to muse and wonder and dwell on—to think deeply about something. Used literally it means to murmur, mumble or talk to yourself.
In a negative sense it can mean “to complain.” It is the idea that something has so taken hold of your thinking that you can’t stop thinking about it. So on the negative side—it troubles you and disturbs you and draws out complaint; but on the positive side—it captivates you and enraptures your thinking so that you “dwell on” it. This is the way we want God’s truth to lay hold of us—so that we can’t but dwell on it, so that it captures our thinking and finds it way into our choices and decisions.
The Puritans thought of meditation this way as they described it as “preaching to yourself.” We take the Word of God that we hear and read, and we mull it over in our minds and then bring it to bear upon our lives in personal exhortations.
When we meditate we think about God’s Word. We dwell on it and then as opportunities arise, we preach it to ourselves. We inject it into our thoughts as we make decisions, as we admonish and instruct our souls to choose right things and walk down right paths.
This is the essence of meditation. It is evoking the truth, embracing it and embedding it in our lives. It is intentionally focusing on recalling God’s truth that it might resound in our hearts and become that grid through which we sift and measure our thoughts and actions.
Meditation is a crucial Christian discipline and a vital means of grace that we must treasure and practice. But it is a discipline that takes time and effort. Accessibility can never beat intentional. Don’t assume that having God’s Word close at hand means you have it close at heart. Carve out time in your day to remember, time to ponder, time to preach to yourself. The world around us can too easily choke out what is needful and good for our souls. Don’t allow God’s truth to slip away from you. Be intentional and diligent and your meditation.
Dr. Kenneth Puls is the Director of Publications and the Study Center for Founders Ministries, Cape Coral, FL. Founders Ministries exists to work for the recovery of the gospel and the biblical re-formation of local churches. They have a myriad of ministries that are given to that two-pronged effort, including a church planting network, an online study center, a publishing house, a quarterly journal, regional conferences and events, minister search list, friends list, and church list. In addition to this their website is filled with resources for pastors, students, church leaders and serious Christians.
Meditate on God’s Word
Life is often noisy and full of distractions
Concerns and problems flood our minds. There is always so much to do! But, God wants the very best for you but you just have to know how to recognize it and lay hold of it.
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I don’t even have time to think,” then you know how hard it is to concentrate when you’re being bombarded from all sides. It’s even harder to focus on God when we can’t take time to renew our minds and refresh our spirits by quiet reflection. God doesn’t often shout to get our attention. Instead, He usually speaks to us in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12, NKJV).
So, what can we do to put ourselves in a position to hear God’s voice? We have to make time in our daily lives to get quiet. David said of the Lord in Psalm 23:2, “He leads me beside quiet waters.” Today I want to encourage you to find those quiet waters where you can get alone with the Lord. It may be a room in your house, outside under the trees, or some other place where you can shut out the noise and distractions of the world for just a few precious minutes. The key to renewing your mind, body and spirit is to develop the habit and discipline of meditating on the Word of God every day — even if it is for just a moment.
To meditate simply means to reflect on the same thing over and over again, visualize it and let the meaning of it sink deep down into your heart. Meditation is a spiritual practice that’s encouraged throughout Scripture. The key is to draw on God’s wisdom found in the Scriptures. In fact, the Bible is filled with the blessings and benefits of meditating on its principles. I have four of these benefits that I want to share with you today:
1. Meditating on God’s Word will give you spiritual success.
God told Joshua, “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed” (Joshua 1:8, NLT). God’s definition of success in life is to know Him better. One way we do that is to read and understand His Word!
2. Meditating on God’s Word will help you keep your heart right before Him.
“The word of God is living 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, NIV). We need to evaluate our thoughts, deeds and motives each day, confessing any wrong attitudes or actions (1 John 1:9). The Bible gives us clear direction on how to live. It is a mirror that accurately shows us where our hearts really are.
3. Meditating on God’s Word will give you insights and wisdom that will guide you at every turn in your life.
“I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:99, NIV). There is supernatural wisdom that comes from meditating on God’s Word. It will strengthen you, guide you and give you hope and victory in every situation!
4. Meditating on Scripture will help you fill your mind with the things of God.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8, TLB). Since we can only think about one thing at a time, meditating on God’s love and goodness leaves no room for wrong thinking.
There are incredible riches available when we invest in our relationship with God by spending time in His life-giving Word. We have God’s promise that, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11, NKJV). This Scripture tells us that the Lord has good things waiting for you, but you have to do your part … you have to walk uprightly. We walk uprightly when we live according to the principles of His Word.
Let me encourage you to find a quiet place where you can be still, hear the voice of the Lord and gain the strength you need to fight the good fight of faith. Take time every day in God’s presence, praying and filling your mind with Scripture. The exciting thing about meditating on God’s Word is that even when you leave your quiet place and start another busy day, your mind and spirit are still processing what you read — which means the benefits of meditating on Scripture influence your whole day!
As we walk this life of faith together, we need to remember how many have yet to experience the peace that comes from having a personal relationship with the living Savior. Your prayers and gifts to support this ministry enable us to share this Good News of Jesus with millions of people here in America and all around the world. Thank you so much for your support … and be assured God is using your gifts to sow seeds of life, hope and blessing every day.
Be encouraged today. I believe that your very best days are ahead. Days filled with more joy, peace, encouragement, healing, restoration and hope.