Spiritual Disciplines: How to Engage Biblical Meditation?
Meditation is not difficult, but it is built on skills and resources that are scarce for many of us. We live in a “cliff notes” society where we want the summary rather than the full version. Our minds shift from one topic to another while we rush through the day or as we scroll social media, YouTube and other platforms to find something interesting enough to pause for longer than a moment. This is not bad in and of itself, but it trains our minds to shift form one topic to another until we find something exciting enough to hold our attention. Many of us have lost our ability to keep our mind fixed on a topic because we have become so accustomed to transitioning from one thing to another.
Then when we sit down with the Bible, which was written in a very different time and culture, we can often struggle to grasps the author’s meaning and what they are seeking to share with the reader. This is not something to get frustrated with but rather something to accept and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us in the work of training our minds. One of the key skills necessary to meditate is slowing down both physically and mentally. Once we slow down, we then can ponder what the Scriptures are saying so we can ask ourselves questions that engage our minds in the text. For example, read Galatians 1:6-9:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Once you have read these verses take a few minutes to ponder them. As you do so try to identify and write down the thoughts, emotions and questions that arise.
At a very practical level meditation requires at least four steps: 1. Notice, 2. Have curiosity, 3. Be repetitive and 4. Seek understanding. Noticing requires we first slow down which gives space for curiosity rather than jumping to “I know this” and moving on. Curiosity can be thought of as exploring. It is one thing to hike a trail as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next task, it is quite another thing to explore a trail. Exploring leads to noticing what so many others walk right pass. Exploring is not focused on efficiency or completion but on experiencing. Part of exploring is repetition as there is no way to exhaust the treasures found in the scriptures. Repetition allows for exploring questions that might never be fully answered but can bring greater understanding and appreciation for the Lord.
The how of meditation is about setting aside time and exercising mental muscles that are not always seen as priorities – muscles of slowing down, curiosity (exploring), and searching for understanding. These muscles will require we set aside time and learn to focus our minds on biblical truth, so it comes alive and captures our imaginations.
- How do you engage biblical meditation?
- What are some of your favorite truths to meditate on?
- How might you practice or strengthen the basic skills of meditation mentioned? (Slowing down, Curiosity, and Seeking Understanding) What other skills do you see as being helpful in meditation?
- Which of the basic resources of meditation: Reading the Bible, Bible Knowledge, and Time are abundant or scarce for you? What other resources do you see as being helpful in meditation?
- What biblical terms might you benefit from meditating on?
- What biblical doctrine would you like to spend more time meditating on?
- What questions do you have about meditation and who might you ask those question to?
Scriptures to Consider: Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Deuteronomy 17:14-20, Proverbs 1, Matthew 5-7
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney
- Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus by Robert Morgan
To view the full PDF version, click here.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
Author: Donald Whitney
This 352-page book drawn from a rich heritage will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines. By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how each one will help you grow in godliness, and offering practical suggestions for cultivating them.
Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus
Author: Robert Morgan
Pastor Robert Morgan leads us through a journey into biblical meditation, which, he says, is thinking Scripture—not just reading Scripture or studying Scripture or even thinking about Scripture—but thinking Scripture, contemplating, visualizing, and personifying the precious truths God has given us.
Scriptural Meditation [ACCFS]