How to Meditate on God’s Word
Biblical Meditation is a spiritual practice that involves deeply focusing on a specific subject, text, or verse in Scripture to gain a greater understanding and personal connection to what the Lord is trying to say to us. This practice allows us to grow closer to Him in ways we may have never discovered before. And this spiritual practice has been used for centuries by great Christian leaders such as Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, Amy Carmichael, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So, it seems we are in very good company.
While reading is a valuable tool for gathering information and familiarizing yourself with a text, meditation goes beyond surface-level comprehension to engage with the deeper meanings and personal applications of God’s Word. When meditating on Scripture, the goal is not merely to acquire knowledge but to internalize His teachings, allowing them to shape our character and guide our actions.
Meditating vs Reading or Studying
Meditating on Scripture differs from simply reading in several ways:
Depth of focus: While reading, we might be tempted to quickly move from one verse or passage to another, often seeking to cover as much material as possible. In contrast, meditation involves a more focused and deliberate approach, concentrating on a specific verse or passage to uncover all it has to say to us.
Personal application: Reading Scripture might provide an intellectual understanding of the text, but meditation seeks to go beyond understanding to apply the teachings to our life. This involves reflecting on how the Scripture relates to our experiences, challenges, and spiritual growth, and determining our specific actions to implement its teachings.
Prolonged engagement: Meditation requires spending an extended amount of time with a particular verse or passage. This may involve reading and re-reading the text, pondering its meaning, and praying for guidance and understanding. This extended engagement allows the Scripture to take root in our heart and mind, fostering a more profound and lasting impact.
Prayerful approach: When meditating on Scripture, prayer plays a vital role in inviting the Holy Spirit to guide our understanding and application of the text. This prayerful approach acknowledges that true wisdom and insight come from God and deepens our connection with Him.
Seven Steps to Biblical Meditation
Here are seven practical steps to learn how to meditate on God’s Word (we will present these in outline form):
1. Choose a Passage or Verse: Selecting a Scripture that speaks to your heart or relates to a specific area in your life is important for focused meditation. Here are some suggestions for choosing a passage:
a. Follow a Bible reading plan: Many Bible reading plans can guide you through the entire Bible or specific themes over a set period. Following a plan can expose you to various scriptures and provide a structure for meditation.
b. Use a devotional: Devotionals often provide a daily or weekly scripture selection, accompanied by a brief commentary or reflection. These can serve as an excellent starting point for your meditation. I would suggest the classic, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. You can find an online version of it at www.utmost.org.
c. Seek Scriptures related to your current situation: If you are experiencing challenges, search for Scriptures that address those issues, such as verses on faith during times of doubt, or verses on comfort during times of grief.
d. Select verses that align with your spiritual goals: If you aim to grow in a specific aspect of your faith, choose Scriptures that encourage that growth, such as verses on forgiveness, love, or patience.
e. Explore the teachings of Jesus: The Gospels are filled with the teachings and parables of Jesus, which can provide profound insights for meditation and reflection.
2. Pray for Guidance: Before you begin, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you in understanding the chosen passage. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Prayer is essential when meditating on God’s Word, as it opens our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Here are some suggestions for prayer:
a. Begin with gratitude: Start your prayer by thanking God for the gift of His Word and the opportunity to learn from it.
b. Ask for understanding: Request that the Holy Spirit grants you wisdom and discernment as you read and meditate on the chosen scripture. Proverbs 2:6 reminds us, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
c. Seek personal application: Pray for guidance in applying the teachings of the scripture to your life. James 1:22 encourages us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
d. Pray for transformation: Ask God to use His Word to transform your heart and mind, conforming you more closely to His image. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Remember, transformation to the image of Christ is the goal of Biblical meditation, and just about everything else in your spiritual life.
3. Read and Re-read the Passage: Read the selected Scripture slowly and intentionally, allowing the words to sink in. And then re-read the passage multiple times to gain a deeper understanding. Here are some suggestions for effectively reading and re-reading the passage:
a. Read aloud: Reading the passage aloud can help you focus on the words and their meaning, as well as create a more immersive experience.
b. Use different translations: Comparing multiple translations can provide fresh perspectives and clarity on the passage’s meaning. Consider reading the passage in a few translations other than the New King James Version (NKJV), such as the New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), or New American Standard Bible (NASB). The Bibles listed above are all in the top ten most read in the US.
c. Break the passage into smaller sections: Divide the passage into smaller sections or individual verses, and focus on one section at a time, or one verse at a time. This can help you delve deeper into the meaning of each part of the Scripture and not get overwhelmed.
d. Notice keywords and phrases: As you re-read the passage, take note of recurring words or phrases, as they can reveal key themes and messages. Look for the small words, for they often pack the most meaning.
4. Reflect and Ponder: Consider the meaning and implications of the passage in your life. Joshua 1:8 tells us, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” Note, you shall not read it day and night, but meditate in it. There must be something to this time-honored spiritual discipline. Here are some ways to reflect and ponder on the Scripture:
a. Ask questions: As you read, ask yourself questions about the passage, such as “What is the main message?” or “How does this apply to my life?” Remember, all Scripture is given for you to grow in your faith and become the man or woman of God He intended you to be. (2 Tim. 3:16-17). So ask questions, fully expecting God to give you the answers. Because He will.
b. Consider historical and cultural context: Gaining an understanding of the passage’s historical and cultural context can help you better grasp its meaning. Consult Bible commentaries, study notes, or other resources to learn more about the context in which the Scripture was written. You can utilize the free resources online at www.blueletterbible.org or consider purchasing deeper Bible study tools such as www.logos.com.
c. Connect the passage to other Scriptures: Look for connections to other parts of the Bible, as this can help you gain a broader understanding of the passage and its themes. Cross-references and study notes can be helpful in identifying these connections. A Thompson Chain-Letter Reference Bible can be an invaluable resource for doing this.
d. Meditate on specific words or phrases: If a particular word or phrase stands out to you, spend time meditating on its meaning and significance. Consider how it relates to the overall message of the passage and how it might apply to your life.
5. Write Down Your Thoughts and Discoveries: Write down your thoughts, insights, and any questions that arise during meditation. This will help you process and remember what you’ve learned. Here are some suggestions for doing just that:
a. Summarize the passage: Write a brief summary of the chosen scripture to help solidify your understanding of its main message. Put this in your own words.
b. Record personal insights: Jot down any insights, revelations, or personal connections you make during your meditation. You may want to put these in the margins of your Bible, along with the date, so you can go back later and see how you’ve grown in your relationship with the Lord.
c. List questions and areas for further study: Note any questions or areas you’d like to explore further, either through personal study or with a spiritual mentor. And then make it a priority to find the answers to your questions before moving on to another topic.
d. Write a prayer: Express your gratitude, requests for guidance, and commitment to applying the passage to your life through a written prayer.
6. Apply the Scripture to Your Life: Consider how the passage can be implemented in your daily life, and make a commitment to put it into practice. This is where transformation takes place. Here are some ways to apply the passage:
a. Identify specific actions: Determine concrete actions you can take to implement the Scripture’s teachings in your life. And then don’t let the sun go down until you have taken actions to align your life with the truths that have been revealed to you. To quote Nike: Just Do It!
b. Set goals and create a plan: Establish spiritual goals based on the passage and develop a plan to achieve them. This may include daily habits, accountability partners, or other strategies to help you stay on track. If you drop the ball at this point, your meditation becomes simply intellectual learning and not life transforming.
c. Reflect on progress: Regularly assess your progress in applying the Scripture to your life, and make adjustments as needed to stay aligned with your spiritual goals. Do this often, even daily.
d. Pray for perseverance: Ask God for strength and perseverance as you strive to live out the teachings of the passage. If you ask, He will provide. But He does require us to ask.
7. Share What You Have Learned (Your Transformation): Discuss your meditation experience with a trusted friend or spiritual mentor to gain additional insights and encouragement. And then share it with other believers in a small group setting or at church. Be an encouragement to others as they see your determination and progress. Here are some suggestions for sharing your insights:
a. Join a small group or Bible study: Engaging in regular fellowship with others who are also committed to spiritual growth can provide a supportive environment for discussing your meditation experiences. This is one of the greatest blessings that comes from being involved in a home Bible study, separate from Sunday School or church services. Make this a priority.
b. Seek out a spiritual mentor: Find a mature Christian who can provide guidance, wisdom, and encouragement as you share your insights and spiritual journey. Remember, it is not the mature Christian’s responsibility to seek you out; it is your responsibility to seek them. So take this to heart and make the first move by seeking them out.
c. Share your experience with a friend: Discussing your meditation experience with a friend can lead to deeper conversations and strengthen your relationship. It’s always good to have someone in your corner, cheering you on as you grow closer to the Lord
d. Testify to God’s work in your life: Share your insights and the impact of meditating on God’s Word with your faith community, giving glory to God for the work He is doing in your life. If they can see your transformation, which they should, they will want to know more about it. So give God glory by telling others what He has done in your life.
In conclusion, meditating on God’s Word is an invaluable spiritual practice that allows us to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and grow in all aspects of our faith. By intentionally and prayerfully meditating on Scripture, we can uncover deeper meanings, apply God’s truth to our lives, and experience the transformative power of His Word like never before. And we will learn to hear His voice in the process.
I encourage each of you to make meditating on God’s Word a priority in your spiritual journey. Set aside dedicated time each day to immerse yourself in Scripture, selecting passages and verses that resonate with your heart and speak to your current circumstances. Engage in prayerful reflection and meditation, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your understanding and reveal the personal applications of God’s truth.
Remember, the ultimate goal of meditating on God’s Word is not merely to gain knowledge, but to cultivate a deeper, more intimate relationship with our Creator. As we meditate on Scripture, let us allow it to transform our hearts, renew our minds, and conform our lives to the mind and image of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
And let us take to heart the words of Psalm 119:105, which says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” May God’s Word continually illuminate our path, guiding us in our walk with Him and equipping us to be a light in this world. May we delight in God’s Word and meditate on it day and night, finding strength, wisdom, and encouragement in its pages. Together, let’s embrace the life-changing power of meditating on God’s Word and experience the abundant blessings it brings to our spiritual lives. And let’s be transformed into His likeness (Rom. 12:2).