What is "Biblical Meditation"?
I love Psalm 1. It grabs me every time I read it. The picture is paints for us is attractive and compelling - just listen to this selection from the first three verses:
Blessed is the one… 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.
Most people I talk with (including myself!) are drawn to the sort of life we see pictured here. We're drawn to the flourishing and the fruitfulness the psalm depicts. But we also need to take careful note of HOW this sort of full life is cultivated . We see an answer in the selection I've included above - we need to meditate on the Bible. A life that is full of God's Word will flourish in all the right ways and bear fruit for God.
So if meditation is such a big deal, what IS biblical meditation?
What is Biblical Meditation?
Very briefly, biblical meditation is focusing ON something, for something. (For a whole lot more on this, check out the Institute "Grow" class next time it comes around.) Biblical meditation is focusing our attention ON the person and character of God (Psalm 48:9; Colossians 3:1-2), on the works of God (Psalm 77:12; 119:27; 145:5); and on the revealed Word of God (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:15; Colossians 3:16). As we focus on these things, we do this FOR transformation in certain ways. A life that is filled with Scripture will show evidence of growth in purity and obedience (Psalm 119:9-11, 133). A life filled with Scripture will overflow in the praise of God for who He is and what He's done (Psalm 119:7). A life filled with Scripture offers guidance, teaching and counsel (Psalm 119:24, 97-105), strength in difficult times (Psalm 119:23, 28, 50) and a delight in God's Word (Psalm 119:14, 20, 103).
Seeing all of these things helps us approach biblical meditation a certain way, including at least these things:
How Can I Grow in this Spiritual Discipline?
So now that we have a better grasp of the importance of biblical meditation and what it is, what practical steps can we take to grow in this discipline? To keep things manageable, let me quickly mention four.
1. Practice engaged reading.
Biblical meditation requires engagement. It's too easy to read a section of anything (including Scripture) and have zero idea of what we just read. To help provide focus (and to engage our minds), I encourage people to "bombard the text with questions" - asking lots of questions about a passages keeps us involved. Also, summarize what you've just read after you read it. Forcing ourselves to do this keeps us alert to what we're reading.
2. Meditate on God's Word at the end of a pen.
Writing out (or typing) our interactions with God's Word can be a powerful way to focus our attention and lodge something more deeply into our thinking. Write out your questions, observations, big-takeaways, and "aha insights."
3. Communicate what you're learning - either formally or informally.
When we have to tell someone else something about what we're leaning, it requires that we organize and articulate our thoughts in ways we don't normally have to. And this process of "organization and articulating our thoughts" can actually be part of biblical meditation - where we focus on something attentively and turn it around and around in our minds to get at what it's saying (and what that means!). This "teaching" may be a more "formal" ministry environment (e.g. if you're teaching a class or facilitating a Community Group). But it can also be the "informal" sharing over coffee, across a lunch table, or while you're driving with someone around town.
Usually, when I start talking about memorizing the Bible people begin looking for an exit. But memorizing passages of the Bible (or individual verses) is very doable, and something I recommend often (and I'm trying to grow in this myself!). The cool thing about memorization is that the very process of memorizing facilitates meditation - we repeat phrases and verses over and over again to fix them to memory. And as we do that, these verses should become more and more a part of us, so they shape our thoughts and renew our minds (cf. Romans 12:2).
What else would you add - either (1) to help others develop a full understanding of biblical meditation, or (2) to help cultivate the practice of this spiritual discipline?
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