Meditating on Scripture is a lost art in today’s culture. With worlds of entertainment only a click away, very few moments of silent meditation on anything exist in our daily lives. Yet, I believe the key to a vibrant devotional life lies in the spiritual discipline of meditation on the Word of God.
God’s Words Give Life.
Matthew 4:4 — But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (ESV)
In this verse we find two profound insights:
- There is something about us humans that transcends the material world.
- God’s Word gives life to us in a way the material world cannot.
When God created the universe, He spoke it into being. (See Genesis 1:3.) God’s voice carries creative power. What then must it do to our souls when we feed them through meditation on God’s holy Word?
His Word brings life to our very souls and creates new things within us — new dreams, new vision for the future, new ideas, and new strength for the tasks at hand. We have the privilege of feeding our souls with this life-giving Word, but it must be more than just a little snack here and there.
Our hearts ought to be where the living Word of God dwells.
Colossians 3:16 — Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)
The word “dwell” gives us a picture of someone who is at home. It’s one thing to be somewhere; it is another matter entirely to dwell in a certain location. I don’t dwell in the grocery store, the coffee shop, or the gas station. Those are places I visit. I dwell in my apartment. It is my home; it is the place where I live. Too often we allow the Word of God to visit our hearts, but the act of meditation causes God’s Word to dwell there.
God’s Words Make Us Fruitful.
In one of His final addresses to His disciples before going to the cross, Jesus gave us the secret to fruitful living.
John 15:5,7 — I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (ESV)
The secret to a fruitful life, according to Jesus, was not only to abide in Him, but to allow His words to abide in you. Earlier in that chapter Jesus went as far as to say that apart from Him we are completely incapable of accomplishing anything of value. (See John 15:4.) There is something in the Word of God that not only gives life to our souls but also empowers us to bear impossible fruit. This is because of the connection between God’s Word and faith.
In the Scriptures we read that if we have faith, the impossible becomes possible. (See Mark 9:23.) We also read that faith grows in our hearts through the Word of God. (See Romans 10:17.) The impossible fruit God expects of us can only come as we allow His living and active Word to dwell in our hearts through meditation.
Ways to Meditate on Scripture
The Hebrew word for “meditate” used in Psalm 1:2 is “hagaw,” which means to moan, mumble, utter, or ponder. This gives us the idea that meditation means a constant recitation of scriptures — perhaps in our minds or under our breath. It’s kind of like when you get a song stuck in your head, which brings us to the first practical tip:
Sing the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul commands us to allow God’s Word to dwell in our hearts as we sing “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.” (See Colossians 3:16.) Paul also told us to sing and make melody in our hearts to God. (See Ephesians 5:19.) We know that he put this into practice too because we find him and Silas singing hymns and praise to God while they were locked up in prison for casting a demon out of a fortune teller. (See Acts 16:25.) I personally have had such powerful times in God’s presence throughout the day — whether at work, at home, or driving down the road — as I simply would sing scriptures softly to myself.
Memorize the Scriptures.
Memorizing Scripture is probably the most straightforward way to meditate upon the Word of God. I often recite specific scripture passages that I have memorized as I go throughout my day. This allows the Word to go deep into my heart, and the Holy Spirit begins to bring revelation about the meaning and implications of those passages, which builds my faith and transforms my thinking.
“Marinate” in the Scriptures.
Sometimes when we read the Word of God, we read far too quickly. Of course there is a time to read quickly through a book of the Bible in order to understand the full context of what is being said. But then there is a time to read slowly through the scriptures while pausing to reflect upon passages that stand out to us. This type of meditative scripture reading is nourishing to our souls. It allows us to hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us through the pages of the Bible and transforms what can sometimes be a dry and tedious ritual into a life-giving and powerful encounter with God.
May God bless you as you encounter Him in His Word.