Meditation is frequently associated with Eastern religions or New Age practises, but it is also important in the Christian faith. One of the most effective ways for a Christian to meditate is on God’s Word. Unlike other forms of meditation that require you to “empty” your mind, this one requires you to immerse yourself in and think deeply about God’s truth.
Part 1 Choosing the Subject
1. In a Christian context, define “meditation.” Meditation is associated with emptying the mind and relaxing the body in a secular context. On the other hand, meditating on God’s Word—or any other form of Christian meditation—requires you to focus and think deeply about God’s truth.
Consider what God says to Joshua in Joshua 1:8 (NIV): “Keep this Book of the Law on your lips at all times; meditate on it day and night so that you will be careful to do everything it says. You will then be prosperous and successful.”
While this verse technically only refers to what Christians consider the first five books of the Bible, this concept can be applied to meditating on the entire Bible. Meditating on God’s Word should be done on a regular basis, with the goal of broadening your understanding and applying it to your life.
2. Concentrate on a single verse or paragraph. This is most likely the most common method of Bible meditation. Choose a single verse or paragraph from God’s Word to meditate on. You’ll need to spend a significant amount of time dissecting and exploring the meaning of that verse.
There is no “wrong” answer, but if you’re stuck, a verse from the New Testament—especially one from one of the four Gospels—might be a good place to start (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). In the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms and the Book of Proverbs both contain wonderful verses to ponder.
3. Concentrate your meditation on a single topic. Another option worth considering is to choose a topic covered extensively in the Bible. Instead of meditating on a single passage, identify several that deal with this topic and think deeply about how the supporting passages define or elaborate on it.
For example, you could concentrate on the subject of forgiveness. Find different verses on forgiveness in a topical Bible or index, then read through as many as you can. Examine the context of each verse and compare them to one another.
4. Concentrate on the meaning of a single word. This option is similar to meditation on a specific topic, but instead of dealing with a broad topic, you’ll need to rely on the context of one or more passages to help enrich your understanding of a significant word’s meaning.
For example, you could use the word “Lord.” Examine verses that contain the word “Lord,” as well as verses that contain the lowercase version of “Lord.” Consider the term’s contextual meaning for both spellings. You can also supplement your understanding by comparing religious and secular uses of the term using external resources, such as a dictionary.
5. Examine one book of the Bible. Using this method, you will need to devote more time to reading a full book of the Bible rather than focusing on a single short passage. Examine and investigate the significance of that book, looking at it as a whole as well as individual pieces of it a little at a time.
If this seems daunting, consider beginning with a short book, such as the Book of Esther. You may also want to use a Bible study guide to supplement your understanding, but this is not required.
Part 2 Focusing on God
1. Locate a quiet area. Meditating on the Word of God, like secular forms of meditation, requires you to separate yourself from the noise and distractions of the world long enough to focus on the task at hand.
Multitasking may appear to be a valuable skill in today’s world, but you won’t be able to give any task your full attention while balancing it with something else. Keeping distractions to a minimum while meditating on God’s Word should improve your ability to focus.
Make an effort to set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes for meditation. Inform any family members or roommates that you need time alone to focus, and set yourself apart in a quiet, empty room. Make yourself at ease, but not so at ease that you struggle to stay awake.
2. Calm your heart. This type of meditation necessitates more than just external silence. You should also seek internal peace by putting aside your doubts, fears, and other distracting thoughts.
Don’t feel bad if your mind wanders back to the problems of the day, but don’t let it dwell there either. When you notice yourself becoming distracted by worries or anxieties, take a moment to pause and consciously redirect your attention back to God. Praying for rededicated focus at that time may also be beneficial.
3. Examine the Bible. Open the Bible and read the verse or verses you intend to ponder. Spend as much time as necessary to gain a basic understanding of the words, then bookmark the verse for later use; you’ll need to refer to it frequently throughout your meditation.
Try reading the passage again after you’ve finished it the first time. This time, speak the words aloud, intentionally emphasising different parts with your tone, and allow yourself to be open to new revelations as you do so. During your meditation, repeat this exercise as needed or desired.
You may also want to use other tools to improve your understanding if necessary. Investigate the cultural context. Read through verses that are similar in tone or subject matter. Use a dictionary or thesaurus to look up unfamiliar words.
4. Pray about the readings. Spend a few moments praying to God for guidance in your meditation. Request that God open your heart to the truth and wisdom contained in His Word.
While the Bible may appear to be nothing more than words on a page, keep in mind that the text you read is directly from God. Asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand his storey while you meditate is essentially the same as asking an author to help you understand his storey.
Part 3 Meditating on the Word
1. Make a note of it. Take notes on the content of your chosen passage as you read it again. You may want to highlight, underline, or write short notes directly on the page, but you should also keep a separate journal to take more detailed notes.
Highlighting ideas can help you focus on key elements during subsequent readings, but actually writing notes on each verse will help you think through it. Summarizing ideas and responding to them in this way forces you to focus your attention entirely on the words in front of you.
2. Consider it aloud. Despite the fact that your space and heart should be quiet, don’t be afraid to think aloud. Talking about the passage can help you process it and solve its mysteries more effectively.
You can think aloud as a prayer, but you can also think aloud to help you work through complex ideas.
The Bible is frequently referred to as God’s “living word.” The term “living” implies that the text is meant to be active, which means that you can (and should) interact with it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, praise God’s promises, and respond honestly to what you read.
3. Make a mental note of the words. While this is not practical for meditation on multiple verses or entire books, it is often beneficial to memorise the passage word for word when meditating on a short paragraph or single verse.
Consider using the memorization building block method. Repeat a single word or short phrase 6 to 12 times. Add new words or phrases to the first, then repeat the process. Continue until you have completed the entire passage.
4. Reread the selected passage. Spend some time writing out the passage’s meaning in your own words. Go into as much detail as possible, attempting to elicit as much meaning as possible.
Put the passages you read into your own words, but remember to keep the meaning behind God’s words in mind as you do so. The goal is not to change or twist the truth, but to gain access to it in more familiar terms.
5. Elicit an emotional response Consider the passage on which you’re focusing. Try to identify God’s desires as expressed through those words, and then try to align yourself with those desires so that you can feel some of what God feels.
Allowing yourself to feel emotion alongside God allows you to make the passage you’re reading more “real” to yourself, resulting in a richer experience. Instead of simply appearing as text on a page, God’s words should appear significantly more meaningful—as meaningful as they were always intended to be.
6. Seek the benefits of meditation actively. Meditating on God’s Word, like secular meditation, can provide you with a renewed sense of calm, but the benefits of this meditative practise can go even deeper. Seek the guidance, comfort, joy, reassurance, and wisdom that come from a deeper understanding of divine truth as you meditate.
“Blessed is the one […] whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night,” says Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV).
Meditating on God’s Word will provide you with a better understanding of what God wants from and for you, as well as guidance. Reading about God’s promises and mighty deeds can provide you with comfort in times of trouble as well as an increased sense of joy. Improving your understanding of God’s redemptive love should provide you with comfort. Finally, you can equip yourself with the wisdom you need to navigate through spiritual darkness by improving your understanding of God’s Word through meditation.
7. Use the words in your own life. It’s time to act once you’ve grasped the depth and significance of the meditative passage. Examine your own life to see how you can apply your new understanding of God’s Word to your actions and perspectives, and then make the necessary changes right away.
Consider James 2:17 (NIV), which states, “…faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Actions demonstrate faith and comprehension. Because meditating on God’s Word is a practise that is intended to improve both faith and understanding, action should be a natural result of effective meditation.
That said, don’t expect a 30-minute meditative session to make it easier to live by God’s Word for the rest of your life. Meditation is a discipline, and as such, you must work at it on a consistent and intentional basis to reap its full benefits.
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