Imagine that your mind is a cup full of liquid, representing the tasks, distractions, and pressures of everyday life. In order to find peace, you gradually pour out the liquid by clearing your mind, calming your body, and releasing yourself from all conscious thinking, leaving yourself with a clean, empty cup. That’s a picture of secular meditation (at least the New Age form of it).
Now imagine that there’s a steak cooking on the grill. You can see the golden char, hear the crackling sizzle, and smell the delicious aroma. But just seeing, hearing, or smelling the steak won’t satisfy you – you eat it, tasting the rich flavor with your mouth and feeling the satisfaction and strength that a feast brings to your body. That’s a picture of Christian meditation. Which sounds better? And more importantly, which one does God want you to do?
Last Tuesday at the Porch, JP made the point that you need to designate a driver for your life – either your flesh, or the Holy Spirit. If you want the Holy Spirit to be in control of your life, meditating on and applying Biblical truths is how you help that happen.
If the word “meditation” feels like something only for Buddhist monks or hippies or yoga instructors, we need to redefine it, since it’s a spiritual discipline that is both commanded by God and modeled by godly people in Scripture. I like the definition that Donald S. Whitney gives in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life:
“Meditation [is] deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture…for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.”
He makes the point that meditation is a constructive mental activity that fills the mind with God and His truth. It’s the deep absorption of Scripture, not just the intake. To go back to the cup thing, he gives the analogy of your mind as a cup of hot water, and your intake of Scripture as a tea bag. Hearing God’s Word is like dipping the bag once in the water. It’s still not tea. Reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word is like dipping the tea bag multiple times. Getting better, but probably still weak tea. But meditating on God’s Word is like immersing the tea bag and letting all the rich flavor and color change the water completely. When we meditate on Scripture, it completely colors our thinking about God, His ways, and ourselves.
The Bible has many verses that instruct us to meditate deeply on God’s Word and truth:
In Joshua 1:8 , God commands Joshua to always keep the Book of the Law (Scripture) on his lips, meditating on it day and night, and carefully doing everything written in it.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to dwell on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.
Romans 12:2 commands us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Proverbs 22:17-18 encourages us to pay attention to wisdom and to apply our hearts to Scripture.
Meditation isn’t just a command from God; He also promises blessing with it:
Psalm 1:1-3 – “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
James 1:25 – “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
Isaiah 26:3 – “[God] will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [him].”
Here are some ideas to start off your meditation on God’s Word. Try these out, experiment with others, and process it with your community. Share with each other what God in your heart and life as you meditate on His truth!
Emphasize each different word in the text that you’re reading. Think about what comes to mind as you focus on each one. (example: For GOD so loved the world…For God SO loved the world…For God so LOVED the world, etc.)
Rewrite the verse in your own words, while preserving the core meaning or truth of the verse.
Summarize the truth that the verses are teaching – pull out the timeless principles.
Pray through the verses that you’re reading. Speak the verses as your own prayer to God, asking Him to illuminate them for you.
Look for ways to apply the verses to your own life. As James 1:22 says, taking in God’s Word without actually doing what it says is just deceiving yourself. Put it into action!
Are you meditating on God’s Word? We’d love to hear how it’s impacting your life!