I hope the information you glean today is going to help you as you try to incorporate meditation into your daily spiritual disciplines to try to live more for Christ. Meditation may be a difficult subject but we’re going to try to answer four questions today:
- What is meditation?
- What does the Bible say about meditation?
- How does it benefit your walk?
- How do you apply it?
Let’s start with “What is meditation?”
Webster gives us a simple definition that is pretty easy for you and me to get our mind around: “the act or process of spending time in quiet thought.”We’ ve always used this term in my lifetime of a “quiet time.” So really meditation should be part of this ongoing pattern of you getting alone before the Father with His Word.
But meditation is a more than a quiet time, which is reading a passage of scripture and having a time of prayer. Meditation should go to a next step. It’ s an expression of a person’ s thoughts on a specific topic or a specific matter in their life.
So what does the Bible say about meditation?
Let’ s go to the first Psalm and find out. It says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [so be careful who you’ re around] nor stand in the path of sinners [so be careful of how you live and who you are interacting with] nor sit in the seat of scoffers [so be careful of who your critics are]. But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in his law, he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2, NASB)
It’s hard for us in a busy culture to get to a place where you and I – in the midst of cell phones and apps and everything we’re confronted with – can grasp the idea that we can meditate on the Word day and night. “He will be like a tree,” though, if he will do it, “firmly planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3, NASB)
Notice that this is not a “health and wealth” idea. It’s a reality that if you are taking the time to meditate on God’s Word and your life is so entrenched on meditating on what He has for you, then He is going to be with you no matter what. Not that he would leave you regardless, but you are going to have a conscious awareness – when you listen to music, when you are on social media, when you are around other people – you’re going to have a consciousness that God is with you and guiding you. That’s what meditation does. It keeps our awareness at a higher level.
How does it benefit your personal walk?
The discipline links to many other disciplines, for example, prayer and study. The reality is we benefit the most when we strive to learn techniques and methods for meditation that help us. Granted it’s a challenge. Meditation is not easy in a busy culture where we’re getting a text message and we’re getting a notification that something is happening and we’re getting an email that we have to respond to. If you desire to meditate on a verse of scripture how do you begin to remember those words? How would you begin the process of meditating on His Word day and night?
You may have to write a verse down many times. You might have to begin to recite a verse out loud. Long ago, I learned Jeremiah 29:11: “‘ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, but to give you a hope and a future.’” But I love verse 13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart.” How have I come to learn to meditate on that verse on a consistent, weekly basis in my life? It’s because at some point my youth minister told me that I needed to memorize that passage of scripture. So I wrote it on notecards. I had it on the dash in my vehicle. I had it on the mirror where I shaved every day. I began to recite that verse and I placed it in prominent areas where I would be reminded of that verse, and it still sticks with me today. I’m meditating on God’s Word these many years later because I made the meditation a discipline in my life and journey.
How do you apply it?
You have to begin incorporating times of being alone, where the apps don’t annoy you and the devices are not there and the distractions are set aside. You may to get up a little earlier in the morning or stay up late in the evening to find a place in your schedule when meditation can occur. I would encourage you to use morning and evening, but if you’re not doing those already at least start with one of those times. You have to begin to express your thoughts, which might even lead to another spiritual discipline of journaling. As you begin to meditate there might be some things you need to jot down. There might be an accountability partner you have to begin to seek out, someone you can express to what God is doing. You also will begin to enhance your prayer life. As you’re meditating on His Word, you’ re going to want to be talking to Him. You’ re going to want to share your heart with Him.
Getting alone and getting away from those distractions may be hard. But the reality is that meditation is getting alone from everything, being still and letting God speak to you through His Word. Maybe at times, you don’t have your Bible. Maybe you’ re just in a prayer time. Maybe you just have your journal. Maybe you’ re are just alone, sitting, kneeling, outside walking, but you’re in a season of awareness that God is working in your life and you’re communing with the Father.
I encourage you to make meditation part of your walk with Him. Meditate on Him day and night in what He has for you to do, through the Word He is teaching and the Holy Spirit who is guiding. May you incorporate meditation into your life and those you are leading in ministry.
Jody Dean serves as the Director of Mentoring Programs in Christian Education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.