This is a generation of hustle and bustle. Time out for anything except sleep and medical checkups is considered being lazy or unproductive when you ought to be in high gear.
Reflection and deep thought in a quiet place is a thing of the past. This idea of taking time to be holy is more often a song we sing than an accomplishment. It takes time to be holy. It takes lots of time to be truly effective for God.
It is a mistaken idea that meditation is only for those who have time for it. In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells His disciples to, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.”
“Meditation” is simply thought prolonged and directed to a single object. Meditation is “chewing like a cow chews its cud.” It brings up previously digested food for renewed grinding and preparation for assimilation. Meditation is pondering and reviewing various thoughts by mulling them over in the mind and heart. It is the process of mental food. We might call it “thought digestion,” (chewing upon a thought deliberately and thoroughly – providing a vital link between theory and action).
Meditation is analyzing, taking a good long look at a given object or thought. Meditation is action. It is mental planning ahead with definite action in mind for accomplishing a job.
Beware of getting alone with your own thoughts (such as in an unhealthy fantasizing about immoral things or introspection about how God made you that you don’t like about yourself or humanistic philosophies or prideful attitudes about yourself or selfish planning for your future, etc.). Instead, get alone with God’s thoughts. How would God have you view things? Don’t just meditate upon yourself but dwell upon God and His great works. Seek God in your inner thought life. There is always danger in meditating upon problems, except as to find responsible, God-pleasing solutions. Develop the habit of reflecting upon the Word of God, the Bible, and therein find the answers to your problems. Ponder or deeply consider what God wants you to be and do. Then be that or do that!
Questions to Help You Meditate Biblically
Why am I doing this particular activity? What do I hope to accomplish? What attitudes, habits, thoughts, emotions, words, etc. need to be changed the way God would have them to be? When and how am I going to change them? What motives or perspectives need to be changed, and why? How and when will I do this? How does this information, this experience, or this activity apply to me? How does this activity fit in with my goals in life? If it doesn’t, then why am I getting involved with or thinking about doing it? What is my purpose in life, and why that? Are the things I’m doing helping or hindering me from achieving my purpose and priorities in life? How can I find out what my purpose in life is, if I don’t know? Do I even think about how my daily decisions and activities relate to my purpose/objective or goals in life? If not, what am I going to do about it? Will this activity help me to relate to people better, so that when I do God’s will, I can be more effective? How will this activity help me to obey or trust God more? Am I spending my time and resources in the most productive way to reach people for Christ or to help Christians grow/mature into Christ-likeness?
Some Practical Suggestions on How to Meditate Biblically
As a means of getting under way, here are five suggestions that will make the following Bible verse extremely practical. The verses we will use are found in Matthew 28:19-20.
1. One of the most helpful approaches in biblical meditation is to emphasize different words within the verse. As you throw them out vocally, the Holy Spirit can echo them back to your heart through your ears and mind.
“Go therefore and make disciples (converts) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; …”
“Go …………………… ., baptizing …………………. and ………… …………, teaching …………………; …”
2. Put this verse into your own words. Say it over and over, silently and aloud, until you can communicate it back to yourself in language that has meaning. Reflect slowly. Don’t be in a hurry to reword it – rearrange the words and use your dictionary to look up words you don’t understand. Perhaps you will end up with something like this:
“As you’re going, make followers of (converts to/new believers in) Christ, baptizing and teaching them all of Christ’s commands.”
3. Now that you have taken it apart and have paraphrased it so it is your very own, start asking questions (Matthew 28:19-20).
Who is Jesus talking to? What is He saying? What does He say I should do? How do I know? If Jesus tells His disciples to teach their disciples/converts all that He commanded them, and He just got through commanding them to make disciples/converts, then their disciples/converts should be making disciples/converts also and be teaching their disciples/converts to be making disciples/converts as well. Am I evangelizing the spiritually lost? If not, why? Do I know how to share the gospel with people? If not, where or how can I learn, and when will I start?
Every question is not equally productive, but by asking such questions, your mind will be focused on the Word of God and its application to your life – this is the beginning of biblical meditation.
4. Apply Matt. 28:19-20 immediately. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is profitable in a four-fold function. It is useful in teaching the faith, for correcting error, for resetting the direction of my life and for training me in good living. Tackle Matt. 28:19-20 once again from these four angles:
- Is there some truth I should know from this verse?
- Is there something I should stop doing in light of this verse?
- Is there a practice in my life I should change?
- Is there a habit I ought to begin?
5. A “verse” for the day can be selected during your Quiet Time in the morning. Try analyzing, dissecting and chewing over such a verse during odd moments of your day (e.g., while walking or driving to work or school, riding the bus, waiting for meals, waiting for someone to arrive, waiting in a doctor’s office or at a car repair shop, during free moments, before you fall asleep at night).
Apply it that very day. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts or conclusions with someone else to reinforce them in your own mind.
Without transforming/changing your life, biblical meditation becomes useless. Beware of meditation that ends in just pious words. True biblical meditation ends in moral action. A changed attitude toward God, your fellow man, and/or yourself is the result.
Joshua 1:8 Why should he (or we, for that matter) meditate on God’s word day and night?
How often do you meditate on God’s Word: day and night, once a month, never, or what, and why?
Psalm 1:2 What does he (the blessed/happy person) meditate in day and night?
Are you meditating in God’s law (the Bible) periodically throughout the day?
If so, what exactly do you do?
Psalm 4:4 What does the Psalmist say should be done?
Are you doing this, why, and how often?
Psalm 63:5-6 When is David’s soul satisfied and his mouth offering praises with joyful lips?
What do you meditate on when you go to bed (e.g., how lonely you are, a sexual fantasy, God’s attributes and awesomeness, how you can help other people, biblical truths, the stock market, a prestigious career, traveling, sports teams, money, how you look, romance, what someone said about or did to you, etc.), and why that/those things?
Psalm 19:14 What did David pray?
Have you ever prayed this, and why?
Are you concerned whether or not your thoughts are acceptable to God and not x-rated or self-centered, and why?
Psalm 49:3 What will be understanding?
Would what you think about give understanding to others about life’s meaning, purpose/priorities, and principles of what’s right, best, helpful, wise, etc.?
Psalm 77:11-15 What does the Psalmist meditate on in order to receive comfort in his trouble?
Do you ever do this? If so, when?
And what specifically do you think about?
Psalm 143:5 In seeking God’s deliverance and guidance, what does David do?
Do you ever dwell on how powerful and intimately involved God was in the creation of this universe and beyond?
And do you often reflect on the many answers to your past prayers or the blessings God has given to you?
Psalm 104:34 What does the Psalmist want to be pleasing to God?
Is what you dwell on throughout the day pleasing to God?
If not, what do you plan to do about it, and how soon?
Psalm 119:15 What is the Psalmist going to do?
Are you meditating on God’s precepts/commands as a regular habit, so as to see if you’re doing them or how, when, and where you’re to do them, and why?
Psalm 119:23, 78 In spite of what, does the Psalmist meditate on God’s statutes?
What do you think about when people talk against you or subvert (try to ruin) you, and why?
Is it how you can take revenge?
Or, gossip about them in return?
Or, meditate on God’s Word?
Psalm 119:48, 97 How does the Psalmist show how much he loves and delights in God’s commandments?
How do you express your love and delight of God’s Word?
Why that way, and how often?
Psalm 119:99 Because God’s testimonies are the Psalmist’s meditation, what does he have?
If you want insight, what should you do?
Psalm 119:148 For what purpose does the Psalmist’s eyes anticipate the night watches?
When night approaches, what do you look forward to, and why (i.e., Do you look forward to watching TV? Listening to rock music? Looking at pornography on the internet or in magazines? Fantasizing about worldly or romantic things? Playing video games? Or meditating upon God’s Word, the Bible)?