“Meditation is Simply talking to God about the Word with a desire that your life and those you pray for come into agreement with it” (Bill Thrasher, Page 90)
The concept has been corrupted in modern thought. In the minds of many Christians, meditation is associated with eastern religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism – belief systems that don’t acknowledge God as Father or Jesus as Savior and Lord. This association leads many to believe that meditation in any form opens the mind to evil spirits or untrue teaching.
There are several words in the Bible that translate as a form of meditate, depending on their context, including speak, utter, study, imagine, and muse. (There is even one instance of it being translated as sing, my personal favorite.) The Bible uses meditation as deep contemplation, a turning over and around in the mind to gain greater understanding and be changed by God’s truth.
Biblical meditation is not:
- Sitting with an empty mind
- Mindlessly repeating a single word or phrase to gain some sort of altered state
- Burning candles, or sitting calmly on a rug, or listening to sonorous music
- Practicing yoga
Biblical meditation isn’t even primarily for relaxation, although you may find it calming and comforting. It’s not about controlling your breathing, although there may be times when deep breaths are helpful. It’s never mindless; instead meditation means that your mind is focused on God and his Word.
Not only is biblical meditation about focusing on God through contemplation on his Word, it’s about quieting our hearts with Scripture and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.
- If you’ve ever sat with a Scripture and gone over it repeatedly, trying to understand each word, you’ve meditated.
- If you’ve ever been compelled by a sermon or passage of Scripture to sit and think over a single attribute or testimony of God, you’ve meditated.
- If you’ve ever felt tempted and brought a Scripture to mind, going over it repeatedly to gain God’s strength and rest, you’ve meditated.
When we do our daily Bible reading, we’re acknowledging and strengthening our communion with God. In that regard, our daily reading and Scripture meditation are the same. Bible meditation also shares a similarity with Bible study; like Bible study, it’s meant to take a lingering look into specific aspects and contexts of Scripture.
Where daily reading is our regular nourishment in God’s Word, and Bible study is meant to deepen our understanding of that nourishment, Bible meditation is learning to savor every morsel of God’s rich, vibrant, life-giving Scripture:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).
We are also told to “be of the same mind toward one another” which means essentially that we must develop and maintain the mind of Christ or God’s thoughts. We are to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Rom. 12:16; Phil. 2:5; Phil 1:27). But if my thoughts are contrary to God’s, then I must exchange my thinking with God’s and for that process, He has given us His inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word. So what is our need? We are to study the Scripture, but for that to be effective, we also need to develop the art of biblical meditation.
Biblical meditation involves becoming detached from the controlling and hindering influences of the world and attached to the living God through Christ that we might, through faith and transformed values, experience the sufficiency of the Savior and reach out to a hurting world in need of the living Christ.
Biblical meditation is object oriented. It begins with reflective reading and rereading of the Word and is followed by reflection on what has been read and committed to memory. In Scripture, the word meditate is generally found with an object (God, His Word, or works, etc.) or in a context where the object of meditation is understood.
The Objectives of Meditation
(1) Worship—It is designed to focus on the Lord and His works (Psa 27:4; Psa 77:12). It is a place and space in our lives for communion with God. It is a means of elevating the spiritual over the material world and the world of activity: the world of hustle and bustle and coming and going.
(2) Instruction—It is designed to improve our understanding of the Word and God’s ways as it applies to our lives (Psa 49:3 [i.e., understanding comes from the meditations of his heart]; Psa 119:27, 97f). In meditation we exchange our thoughts with God’s.
(3) Motivation or Encouragement—It is designed to motivate and inspire us in service and courage for the works God has called us to do (Josh. 1:7-8)
(4) Transformation—It is designed to transform and change our lives. This would apply to all the above (Psa 4:4; Psa 19:14; Psa 119:15; Rom. 12:2; Col. 3:1f).
The focus of meditation is on God, His glory and majesty, His ways and works in the world. Its intended effect is to shape one’s inner life and outward behavior.
Meditation is a devotional practice that we engage in with God’s help to know Him better, love Him more, experience closer communion with Him, and live for His glory
Eastern meditation, whether Transcendental Meditation or various forms of New Age meditation, is to be avoided. But biblical meditation should not be feared. On the contrary, it should be fully embraced as a valuable means of knowing God, growing in grace, being transformed into Christ-likeness, and fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives.
Let’s briefly look at a few Bible verses about meditation and its importance in the believer’s life. When God commissioned Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land, He said, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh. 1:8).3 For Joshua to be successful in what God had called him to do, he needed to immerse himself in God’s Word and faithfully put it into practice, thereby growing in the knowledge of God and experiencing divine enablement. This ancient truth is as applicable today as it was then.
The theme of meditation recurs in the Psalter, which begins with Psalm 1 declaring the blessedness of the one
“…who walks not in the counsel of the wicked… but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (1:1–3)
This is a picture of one who is devoted to God and delights in saturating oneself in God’s Word and applying it in daily life. The result is a life of fruitfulness in which this person prospers in whatever God appoints for him or her to do.
A careful study of how Jesus and Paul used Scripture reveals that they had not simply read a lot of Bible verses or even memorized them; rather, they had gone on to meditate deeply and understand their meaning. That treasury of truth enabled them to use God’s Word in an accurate way in whatever situations they encountered. This solid grasp of God’s Word, empowered by His Spirit, is what we need today if we are to successfully navigate life in a fallen world in which we are challenged daily by our own flesh and the schemes and temptations of the devil. Meditation provides essential resources for a wise and godly life and enables us to “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23 NIV). Failure to meditate on God’s Word, to be taught by Him and commune with Him, leaves our hearts unguarded and spiritually impoverished, and that affects “everything you do.”
All of us meditate on something throughout the day; we just may or may not do it with intention. When we are tempted to let our thoughts rule us, we can practice biblical meditation by being deliberate with our thoughts and direct them on the things of the Lord. Instead of getting lost in pain, we can set our minds on the promises of God.
The New Testament gives numerous instructions on how to direct our thoughts, but the word meditate is not often used.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:2-4)
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 6:6-8)
- Start and end your day with the Word.
If we read the Word in the morning, it’s easy for it to slip out of our thoughts over the course of the day. Schedules and demands squeeze those Bible verses from us. If this is an issue you face, as you crawl into bed at the end of the day, ask yourself what you read in the Bible that morning.
- Do something with the Word.
But if we do something with what we read, it helps keep God’s word at the forefront of our thoughts. Essentially, whether you do correlative study with a Bible passage, make a craft with verses, or make a song from a verse, doing something with the words helps you hold on to them. And if you can remember them, then you can meditate on them.
- Talk about God’s word.
If we are regularly talking about God’s word, we will meditate on God’s word. And if we are talking and thinking about God’s word, we will be more able to obey God’s word. And if we are obeying God’s word, our lives are more positioned for His blessings!
Whether you start diligently studying Scripture using word tools, stick post-it notes with Bible verses all over your house, or memorize whole chapters, get your mind soaked with Scripture! You will be blessed when you do!
“ The healthy Christian has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul….trembles at God’s Word….lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and tests and reforms his life daily in response to it. “ – J. I Packer
Chapter 12 Questions
- Pages 89-90, Bill Thrasher tells a story that occurred between himself and a student. Bill stated that his memory of Ephesians 1:15-23 was “ the basis of my intercession for him “ Has there been a time when the Lord triggered your memory of Scripture to intercede for someone ?
- Page 90 , Bill Thrasher gives his definition on meditation. For Christians what is meditation to look like…..and what is it not ?
- The author gave this chapter the title “ Experiencing True Prosperity “. Why did he call it that ? What is “true prosperity according to the writer ?
- Pages 92-93, Bill Thrasher writes “ For the last 30 plus years I have found it helpful to begin my day by systematically reading the Bible and giving God the opportunity to direct my attentions to certain truths. These truths become the springboard to begin speaking to the Lord. “ Share if you have done this or is this something new that might become a pattern for you ?
- Share a statement or paragraph that gave you a new thought or insight from the chapter 12 or from the notes.