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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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By Danny Saavedra
This article is part of a series of articles on the spiritual disciplines that help us grow spiritually, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, become more like Him, and live in such a way that pleases and draws others to Him!
Today, we’re looking at the third of four essential, time-tested, and foundational practices all centered around the Bible.
Meditation for the Christian?
So, when you think of meditation, what comes to mind? What are you picturing? I’d venture to guess most people have this image of a guru sitting criss-cross applesauce, saying, “Oooooooom.” Or if you’re a comic book nerd like me, you may be picturing Doctor Strange peering into the future. Images like these can definitely create a level of skepticism or a stigma around the word meditation in the minds of believers, but none of these things are what we’re referring to.
So . . . what are we referring to? Well, the best definition I can give you comes from Bible scholar and professor Donald Whitney, who explained it this way: “Meditation is deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.”
Meditation is one of the most effective means of experiencing God’s grace in a greater measure, understanding His purposes and plans on a deeper level, and walking in His power and peace in paradigm-shifting ways. That’s why Joshua 1:8 (NIV, emphasis added) tells us, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
I truly believe biblical meditation is the high point of our ability to receive and internalize God’s Word. It also happens to be one of the most misunderstood, underrated, and underutilized disciplines of the Christian life in the church today.
Now, unlike the world’s methodology for meditation, which involves a whole lot of emptying of one’s mind and finding your inner truth, biblical meditation, the kind that produces exponential results in the lives of Christ followers, is all about filling and fueling your mind with the treasures and life-giving Word of Life. One writer put it this way: Meditation is about “filling them (our minds) with biblical and theological substance—truth outside of ourselves—and then chewing on that content, until we begin to feel some of its magnitude in our hearts.”
Mediation in Action
So, how do we do this? What does it look like? Well, as you study the Bible, as you come across a section or passage that you feel drawn towards, that you feel deeply moved by or inspired by, find some time to sit with it, to think deeply on it, to linger over it, to let it roll over your mind and ignite your heart, and then pray over what the Lord has revealed in the passages you studied. And as you do, you will be living out Colossians 3:16, allowing “the Word of Christ to dwell richly in you.”
I want to share an example of this with you in my own life over the last few years. In early 2018, I came to Psalm 23 in my Bible reading, and even though I knew this chapter well, even though I’d heard it dozens of times, I was just so overcome by it in this moment, so that day I meditated on it. Then, the next day, I felt compelled to meditate on it again. And the next day . . . I spent more than a month unable to move on to anything else. I read this passage every day, a few times per day. I journaled about each verse individually, prayed over each verse, and really dug deep on what it meant for the original reader, what it meant for me, how it impacted my life and my relationship with God. I saw Jesus in it and I heard Jesus through it.
And now, no lie . . . every time I feel lonely or lacking, I hear “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” in my head. Every time I feel overwhelmed or stressed or restless, I hear “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” When I feel lost or like I’m losing control, I remember that “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake,” and “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” My time of meditation over this passage has become so deeply embedded into my heart that it has become the pinnacle passage of strength and peace in my life.
You Can Do This!
Theologian Thomas Watson wrote, “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.” Have you ever felt that way? Like you read and then it went nowhere, like you were left cold? I know I have. But ever since I implemented this practice a few years ago, I can tell you that it happens way less often. I want the same things for you! If there is one thing you can take away from this entire series of articles on spiritual disciplines, one practice you truly embrace, I hope it’s a commitment to meditating on the Word!
Start this week, friends. As you read this week, look for verses and passages that stick out to you. Maybe you’ll happen upon a verse or passage that you feel drawn to, that you feel a tug or a pull to sit with. Press into that feeling; it’s the Holy Spirit! He wants you to meditate on this passage. Read it, study it, and then really reflect on it, think deeply about each word, each phrase, each directive or question posed in the passage, consider what it says to you about God, yourself, and the world around you, ponder how you can apply it, walk in it, experience it, and grow in faith, hope, and love through it, and then . . . pray on it.
Friends, I cannot stress enough just how vital meditation is to your spiritual health. I said it earlier and will say it again: Biblical meditation is the high point of receiving God’s Word. It is the missing link between Bible intake and prayer. Meditation bridges the gap between hearing from God, speaking to God, and becoming godly.
If you need some additional information or help getting started in meditation, I am here for you. Send me an e-mail at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org and I will be glad to help you!
In the next article of this series, we’ll cover the lost treasure of Scripture memorization.
Spiritual Disciplines Overview Read the Bible Study the Bible
Memorize the Bible Reading Plan on Prayer
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.