Good morning! Today I am pleased to welcome Erika Mathews, author of Memory’s Mind to my blog! She is here to share some practical tips for Biblical Meditation. I hope her insights are as helpful and inspiring to you as they were to me!
How Do We Meditate?
Biblical meditation is a concept many believers have heard of. Yet relatively few have actually done it. One reason is that it’s somewhat of a foreign concept: it’s not talked about in Christian circles and by the church as much as it is in the Bible.
If you’re one who has heard of Biblical meditation but aren’t quite sure how to begin, or if you’ve tried it and encountered difficulties, here are ten practical tips for meditation.
Please note that Biblical meditation can be approached from two aspects: focused meditation and continual meditation. Focused meditation is a specific and undistracted period of time set apart to meditate on Scripture and spend time with God. Continual meditation is meditating on God’s Word throughout the day as you go about your life. Both are necessary in the life of a believer.
- Ask God.
Before you meditate, talk to God. Ask Him your questions. Biblical meditation is His command; He delights to show you how to do it. More than that, He wants to do it with you.
- Pick a verse to meditate upon.
Small sections enable us to chew on the Word, to digest it, to get it deeply into our hearts and minds.
If you don’t know where to start, try the Law (Exodus 20) or Jesus’ commentary on the Law (Matthew 5-7). God specifically mentions His law in two of the most specific passages on meditation (Psalm 1, Joshua 1:8). I Corinthians 13 or John 14-17 are also excellent places to begin.
Don’t start with too large of a section. While reading longer passages of Scripture is certainly beneficial, meditation is like eating: take one bite at a time so that you can savor it and digest it thoroughly. Start with a single verse. Don’t be afraid to linger long over a short phrase.
- Repeat the verse—over and over and over.
This should not be mindless repetition, but mindful repetition. Just as a musician must practice a piece many times to perfect it, so we repeat God’s Word to engrain it more deeply within us and let it become a part of us—and make us a part of Him.
- Say it out loud.
The Hebrew word translated meditation means “to mutter.” Speaking Scripture aloud has power—for we not only have it in our minds and hearts, but also in our mouths and ears. Even if it’s just a whisper, use your voice.
- Ponder the passage.
Think about it; treasure it. What does it mean? What is God saying to me? What was God saying to the original hearers? What is He telling me about Him? What does this mean for my life? Personalize the verse. Pray it to God for yourself and for others. Sing it, if you like. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in purposefully guarding and treasuring the verse.
- Choose your time and location.
For focused meditation, it can be helpful to pick a location and a time where you will be as undistracted as possible. Purposely remove distractions—but if a distraction finds you, don’t be discouraged. Instead, choose to keep meditating on Scripture as you deal with the distraction. The goal of focused meditation is continual meditation.
A favorite chair, a hammock, or a swing can make great meditation spots. Perhaps you’d like to take a meditation walk. Or perhaps you hear God calling you to meditate on His Word as you go to sleep at night or wake up in the morning.
- Minimize distractions.
If you find your mind wandering, perhaps you’d like to jot down what’s on your mind before your focused meditation time. Once your important things are on paper, the enemy can’t tempt you away from the Word by causing you to worry you’ll forget them! You have more important business to attend to before those tasks: hearing the voice of God.
- Write it down.
Write down your verse on a small card or sticky note. You can carry it around with you during the day or post it where you will see it often throughout the day.
- Set a reminder.
Set reminders on your phone to meditate throughout the day! No matter what you’re thinking about when the notification comes, you’ll be reminded to pull your mind back to Scripture.
- Remain in the presence of God.
Remember that the purpose of meditation isn’t insights or checking it off your spiritual to-do list; it’s a deeper relationship with Him. He loves to speak to you through His Word; keep your spiritual ears open!
Troubleshooting your meditation time
Once you start meditating, it won’t be all smooth and easy. The enemy does not want you to succeed in this because he doesn’t want you to become that familiar with the voice of God. He doesn’t want you to hide God’s Word in your heart. But as you persevere even through difficulty, those very hardships will draw you closer to God.
Some barriers to meditation and their solutions:
Life is so full and busy that you may feel like you just can’t fit another thing in.
First of all, if this is your perspective, get on your knees and ask God to give you his perspective. Martin Luther is said to have declared, “I have so much to do today that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.” If you will by faith meditate on God’s Word in spite of your busy schedule, you’ll find that God will abundantly bless you! He promises so (Psalm 1:2-3, Joshua 1:8, John 15:7).
The beauty of meditation is that it can happen literally any time! While you’re waiting to fall asleep, while you’re cooking, while you’re brushing your teeth, while you’re cleaning, while you’re helping a child, while you’re changing a tire, while you’re getting dressed, while you’re in the car, while you’re waiting in line or for a meal: there are countless opportunities to set your mind on the Word. It’s a matter of making it a priority.
You might feel like you don’t have enough energy to add another item to your daily routine. But another beautiful aspect of meditation is that it doesn’t take much: just your thoughts, which are switched “on” of their own accord anyway. You don’t even need a Bible—just a verse hidden in your heart or written on a card. And God is abundantly able to refresh and renew your energy as you give Him your time through meditating on His Word.
- Other people/distractions/interruptions.
Perhaps your life situation isn’t conducive to a quiet, focused meditation time. Perhaps you’re always getting interrupted.
First, remove what distractions you can. Turn off your phone—or at least notifications (and put it out of reach). Plan ahead as you can. Choose a time when other people are asleep. But even after removing what distractions you can, you might still be interrupted. Instead of seeing it as a hindrance, use it to draw you closer to Jesus. If you’re constantly interrupted by small children, have them meditate with you. They might not do so for more than a minute or two, but even a minute or two has great benefits. Seize what moments you can, and know that in this season of life, you may not be able to have a long focused meditation time. That’s okay. That is one of the joys of continual meditation throughout the day during tasks: nothing can interrupt that time with our Lord amid our daily duties.
Maybe you’re stuck on what to meditate on. Or you don’t feel like you know just how to meditate. Or where to begin. Or how to get started. Don’t let that stop you! Just start. If you’re seeking God, He will reveal Himself to you. He wants to teach you to meditate even more than you want to learn. Ask Him what to meditate on, where to start, and how to do it. Pray for wisdom and guidance, and then just begin. Any Scripture is better than no Scripture—for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable.
- A wandering mind.
Once you start meditating, you might notice that your mind isn’t focused on Scripture for more than a few minutes at a time—how frustrating! Yet this only reveals more deeply our need for God and His Word to cleanse us, to renew us, to immerse us in the Scriptures and give us a passion for Him. Remember, a just man falls seven times and rises again. The moment you notice your mind wandering, don’t waste time in vain reproach: immediately set it back upon the Word. As many times as it wanders, bring it back. The very discipline of doing so reveals our great need of Jesus and motivates us to seek Him even more strongly.
- Dryness and boredom.
When you are meditating, your distractible mind will get tired of focusing on the same thing over and over for so long. It will beg for something new. You might feel like you aren’t getting anything out of Scripture and you aren’t growing closer to God—you’re just wasting your time.
Yet persevere. Even in the dryness and boredom, if you are fixing your mind on His Word, He will reveal Himself to you. Do not be weary in well doing, He promises: in due season, you will reap if you do no faint. Push through the dryness. Don’t let discouragement make you quit. Press on to know the Lord.
Now go meditate—and may God bless you as you seek Him through meditating on His Word!
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. ~ Jeremiah 15:16
About the Author
Erika Mathews writes Christian living books, both fiction and non-fiction, that demonstrate the power of the kingdom of God through ordinary people, transforming daily life into His resting life. She’s a homeschool graduate with a Bachelor’s in Communications, a Master’s in Biblical Ministries, and a passion for sharing Jesus Christ and His truth. Outside of writing, she spends time with her husband Josh, mothers her little ones, reads, edits, enjoys the great Minnesota outdoors, plays piano and violin, makes heroic ventures into minimalism, clean eating, and gardening, and uses the Oxford comma.
What tip was most helpful to you? I love the reminder that meditation is something God wants us to do, and He delights to answer our prayers when we struggle with meditating. And a wandering mind a is a real struggle, and sometimes it seems like it’s so hard to focus! But when your mind wanders, don’t get upset with yourself, just bring it back and continue. The more you work on refocusing, the less you will wander.
Tomorrow Erika will be sharing an article on Chelsea’s blog about what meditation is and why to do it. Be sure to check it out!
Keep planting and watering, the harvest will come!
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