In our society of microwave food, power drinks and instant downloads of movies and songs, we seem to have lost the fine art of stopping and meditating on things. It is all instant gratification.
In doing so, we lose some powerful principles in the Christian life that can be achieved no other way.
One of those things we have lost focus on is biblical meditation.
Now when I talk of biblical meditation, I need to make something clear. I am not talking about the type of meditation taught by eastern mysticism.
Biblical meditation is not emptying your mind of everything but is just the opposite. It is filling your mind with something.
The Apostle Paul talked about meditation in the book of Philippians.
FINALLY, BRETHREN, WHATEVER THINGS ARE TRUE, WHATEVER THINGS ARE NOBLE, WHATEVER THINGS ARE JUST, WHATEVER THINGS ARE PURE, WHATEVER THINGS ARE LOVELY, WHATEVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT, IF THERE IS ANY VIRTUE AND IF THERE IS ANYTHING PRAISEWORTHY – MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS.
The Definition Of Biblical Meditation
The word used for meditate in this passage is the Greek word Logizomai which means to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on, to suppose, deem, judge. We get our word logic and logical from it.
In Hebrew, one of the words used is the word Siyach which means to muse, meditate upon, study, or ponder.
So meditating is not emptying ourselves of all thought and ideas but instead is filling ourselves with specific thoughts and ideas.
It is more than just logically reasoning something out; it is rehearsing and making a mental image of what we are thinking about.
Now before you go and say that this is too hard for you, let me make this simple. All of you meditate.
All of us have thought back to a certain thing and replayed what happened in our mind. We usually do this when something negative or painful happens to us.
I remember one instance in my own life where a situation happened that broke a very dear and precious relationship to me. I rehearsed it over and over in my mind trying to figure out how I could have done things better, where I made mistakes, and in all honesty where they were the one that was wrong.
This is meditation, just not in a good or healthy sense.
Where Should We Focus Our Meditation?
Meditating On Good Things
The Bible gives us 3 examples of where to focus our meditation. The first one I have already given you at the beginning of this article. Paul tells us to focus our attention on the things in life that are positive and uplifting.
Although I am not a fan of the teaching of positive confession, I do believe that what we dwell on all the time will influence our actions and perspectives.
If we dwell on painful and negative things, then we will react to the challenges of life negatively. We will read into those challenges a negative connotation that will lead us to act in ways that are not healthy or productive.
The opposite is true as well.
If we dwell on the positive, the good things in life, the things that are uplifting, then when we encounter problems, we will view those problems through lenses that see the good in it, finds a solution to it, and does not go forth with a negative mindset.
So it is essential to the life of a Christian believer to meditate upon the good things in life.
Meditating On The Word Of God
Another way that the Bible teaches us to meditate is to meditate on the scriptures.
In Psalm 1, David encourages us to meditate upon God’s word.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
In this case, when we are meditating on the word of God, we are dwelling or pondering it. It is more than just doing a scripture study on it. It means that we are making a mental picture of what it looks like.
If I may use an example from agriculture, we are chewing on it like a cow chews its cud.
Recently my wife and I went to enjoy a meal with some friends.
They went all out in preparing a delicious and well thought out meal that would have been considered gourmet in any restaurant. It was delicious.
How shameful it would have been to have taken that meal and thrown it into the microwave or put it into a blender in order to make it easy to ingest. The whole purpose of the meal was way beyond just providing nutrition. It was meant to be tasted and enjoyed.
The same is true when we meditate on the scriptures. It is not just enough to be fed by them.
Biblical meditation is the process where we enjoy feeding our souls. The purpose is to taste, chew, and savor God and His word.
Meditating On God Himself
The third biblical method of meditation is to meditate on God Himself.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Spirit-filled Christians are people who believe and live in the presence of God. For us, God is not just a theory or a concept but He is a living reality in our lives. We have a personal relationship with the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Because of this relationship, we can meditate upon God directly. We can enjoy his presence.
As Andrew Murray said, we are to practice abiding in His presence. Meditating upon God directly is to meditate upon His presence.
There are many times that I will sense the presence of God around me. In the same way that I feel His presence when I worship, I will sense His presence when I meditate. I will focus on that presence and allow my soul to get quiet and listen.
Just as the old hymn writer Charles Austin Miles wrote in 1912
I COME TO THE GARDEN ALONE
WHILE THE DEW IS STILL ON THE ROSES
AND THE VOICE I HEAR FALLING ON MY EAR
THE SON OF GOD DISCLOSES.
AND HE WALKS WITH ME,
AND HE TALKS WITH ME,
AND HE TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN;
AND THE JOY WE SHARE AS WE TARRY THERE,
NONE OTHER HAS EVER KNOWN.
This is meditating on the presence of God alone.
The Benefits Of Biblical Meditation
The first benefit of biblical meditation is found in Psalm 1.
Notice in the passage above that it tells what will happen if you meditate on the word of God.
It is a picture of abundance.
It says you will be planted, refreshed with water, bear fruit, have green leaves, and prosper. This is a beautiful picture of abundance.
Wisdom And Understanding
In Psalm 49:3 David says this.
My mouth shall speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.
When we meditate on the things of God, we receive wisdom and understanding.
Many times in our life we are faced with dilemmas and problems that we have no answer for.
There have been many times in my life where I have not had a solution to a problem. It is during these types of times that answers have come through biblical meditation.
I will be mulling over the scriptures or the goodness of God, and a thought that is much smarter than any of my thoughts comes to my mind, and I know that it is wisdom and understanding that God has given me.
In the book of James, we find this scripture.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
I believe that God wants us to be able to walk in His wisdom. He will give it generously. One of the ways that He gives it is through the art of meditation.
Strength And Comfort
Again David talks about the benefits of meditation in Psalm 119.
49 Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
51 The proud have me in great derision,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
52 I remembered Your judgments of old, O Lord,
And have comforted myself.
When you dwell on the promises of God, when you remember His promises to you, you are both strengthened and comforted.
There was a time in my life where I was given a promise of returning to the ministry by God. That promise came in many different ways and I knew it was from God. It took 8 years for that promise to be fulfilled.
One of the ways I would be strengthened and comforted when I received 185 rejection letters from churches who did not want me as a pastor was by meditating on the promises I had received from the Lord.
2 Way Communication From God
So many times in our Christian life we do not expect God to speak back to us. We send up our prayers, plod along obediently but we do not stop to listen whether or not God is speaking back.
God set up our personal relationship with Him because He wanted to communicate with His people. Biblical meditation opens a huge door to God speaking back. He does this sometimes by giving us revelation through His word.
While we are meditating on His word, sometimes it leaps out at us, and we know in our hearts that it is meant for us.
Other times we get what I call inspired insight. That is when we are dwelling in the presence of the Lord or upon some of his miraculous works and all of a sudden we get an inspiration to do something we have never thought of doing before.
That happened to me a little over three years ago.
I was spending time meditating upon the Lord and the idea to take the articles I was writing for my local newspaper and publish them on the internet came to me.
Five years later and millions of readers later, 155k Facebook fans, and so on, you see the result of that one inspired insight.
Finally, at times He speaks back through a spiritual gift.
We may be meditating on good things, His word, or just spending time in His presence, and we will get a picture or a word that wells up from within our soul. Once again God is communicating back.
This has happened to me more times than I can count. Most of the time it is just personal and does not have any earth-shattering consequences. Other times it has been quite profound.
Probably the most poignant experience I have had with this was shortly after I went through a divorce. I was extremely depressed and it seemed like my life and dreams were all over. I was feeling like it would be better that my life would end.
I was driving a truck for a living at the time, and I remember this experience like it was yesterday.
I was driving along, and I was thinking about what a mess my life was. In the midst of that admittedly negative meditation, God spoke to my heart.
He said, “How much do I love you?” I was forced to admit to God that He loved me unconditionally. He then said, “Why do you hate what I love?” I was stunned.
Then He asked, “How much do I accept you?” Once again I had to admit that I was accepted in the beloved.” He then asked. “Why do you reject what I have accepted?”.
This was the spark that changed my direction, and I let go of my anger towards God and myself concerning what had happened in my life with divorce.
So today, I would like to encourage you to recapture the lost art of biblical meditation. Start taking time to meditate upon the good things in your life, upon the word of God, and to meditate upon God himself and His presence in your life.
I think if you do then you will find that the benefits of biblical meditation are far more significant than just these four main points.