How Do We Get from Here to There? ~ Part 1

An Introduction to Christian Meditation and Memorization

God's Word

In my last post, we looked at several passages from the Bible to emphasize why I believe it is critical to first meditate on any passage you might like to memorize. In this post, I want to begin to explore what Christian Meditation is and how we can actually start meditating on God’s Word.

What Is Christian Meditation?

The Bible views meditation as an effective discipline which aids us in understanding God’s truth. It’s a skill that may be learned and exercises the mind. For many of us, our minds are like a hummingbird fliting from one flower to the next in search of nectar. In contrast, meditation is an exercise designed to train the mind to remain fixed on one subject for an extended period of time. Through meditation, we focus our minds and give time for the Ruach to renew and transform our minds. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Sometimes, it is easier to say what something is not than what it is. In this case:

  • Meditation is not prayer ~ there is no two-way conversation with God. We are listening to what He has already said to us through His Word.
  • Meditation is not worship ~ although we may be in an attitude of worship; we are not actively giving praise or adoration to God. Again, we’re listening.
  • Meditation is not study ~ although we may begin our meditation by referring to commentaries or other references, the goal is not to learn by feeding our intellect with information.
  • Meditation is not receiving new or unique revelation ~ although this may happen, our goal and the nature of revelation is more humble. Our goal should answer: What is God telling me from His written Word and how do I need to put that into practice?

Christian Meditation is based on God’s Word ~ the Bible. What I am sharing here has nothing to do with Eastern meditation. We meditate by pondering, thinking deeply, affirming, contemplating, musing, reflecting, speculating, confessing, praying, reciting, singing, speaking and practicing a focused study on His Word.  [1]

As I stated in The Chicken or the Egg, ruminate is my favorite synonym for meditate. Some have referred to Christian Meditation as our spiritual digestive system; which breaks down the Word of God and digests it within our spirit. We meditate by taking in the Word of God and chewing on it over and over.

Keila Ochoa has stated that “nothing compares to pondering God’s Word, learning more of Him, and putting it into practice in our daily lives. The best place for His Word lies deep in our souls.” [2] The Psalmist wrote: “I treasure your word in my heart, so that I won’t sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)   Both statements imply that we are to put into practice what we have learned. As we frequently hear, our talk must be reflected in our walk. It does us no good to meditate on God’s Word if we aren’t going to apply it in our daily life.

I was reminded of this truth just yesterday. I’m involved in an online small group (via Skype). We are currently studying the epistles of Yochanan. The lesson was from 1 Yochanan 2:1-11.

“Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command. On the contrary, it is an old command, which you have had from the beginning; the old command is the message which you have heard before. Yet I am writing you a new command, and its reality is seen both in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:7-8)

The command was obviously to ‘love one another’ contained in both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah.

As we were discussing the implications of these verses in our own lives, I could not get a song out of my head ~ yep; you guessed it ~ ‘All We Need Is Love’ by the Beatles. As I thought of that song and its implications along with the Word of God, I had to ask myself was this a fruit I was bearing in my everyday life? Was I displaying love to those around me? Was I motivated by love in all my words and actions? The obvious answer was, NO! I wasn’t practicing what I believed. I realized that I have a lot of work to do to.

That is the true reason that we need to meditate on God’s Word. We have to ingest it and with the nourishment we receive live it out.

So, How Do You Get Started?

Christian Meditation should be very natural and a normal part of every Believer’s life. Meditation can take place almost anywhere, but I find it is easier to meditate in a quiet, comfortable place with some privacy. I personally use my den the first thing in the morning.

My favorite passage to begin to meditate on is:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” ~ Philippians 4:8 (ESV ~ emphasis added.)

If I’m not mistaken, this is where we get the phrase “the power of positive thinking” coined by Norman Vincent Peale. Based on this passage, I tend to spend more time ruminating on positive passages as I do my daily Bible reading.

In my next post, we will continue looking at how to meditate on God’s Word.

Click here for PDF version.

[1]  Even though I am not a linguist, I’ve come to believe that English is a ‘squishy’ language when it comes to interpreting Biblical Hebrew or Greek. We seem to have too many words to describe or translate what the original writers God used to copy His Word were conveying.

[2] Our Daily Bread, October 26, 2015.

9 thoughts on “How Do We Get from Here to There? ~ Part 1

  1. You said:
    • Meditation is not prayer ~ there is no two-way conversation with God. We are listening to what He has already said to us through His Word.
    • Meditation is not worship ~ although we may be in an attitude of worship; we are not actively giving praise or adoration to God. Again, we’re listening.
    • Meditation is not study ~ although we may begin our meditation by referring to commentaries or other references, the goal is not to learn by feeding our intellect with information.
    • Meditation is not receiving new or unique revelation ~ although this may happen, our goal and the nature of revelation is more humble. Our goal should answer: What is God telling me from His written Word and how do I need to put that into practice?

    Then you said:

    “We meditate by pondering, thinking deeply, affirming, contemplating, musing, reflecting, speculating, confessing, praying, reciting, singing, speaking and practicing a focused study on His Word”
    In the bullets you tell us what meditation is NOT, then you provide a definition stating that meditation IS what you just said it isn’t, except for the bit about new or unique revelation, which you say can happen and give an example of from Job in another post.

    This ‘new unique revelation’ and your description of ruminating on God’s word in Job and getting something unique/special is exactly what contemplative prayer is all about, which has its roots in Eastern meditation, courtesy of Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk who visited Eastern temples and shrines and learned it from them. Your ‘open the Bible and read and when something catches your attention (word/phrase or whatever) fits the contemplative prayer mold also, although it stops short of repeating the word or phrase over and over and over (lectio divina)
    .
    I could say a lot more, but I’ll stop and provide a passage upon which to meditate:

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17

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    1. Dan,

      I’m not exactly sure what your point is, but as I have said in the past, I know nothing about Eastern meditation. All I remember is that when the Beatles got into it in the late 60’s or early 70’s I thought there music went down hill.

      I have meditated upon and memorized 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

      Don

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      1. Dan,

        I hoped that I implied that it is critical for me. Certainly, you can memorize just about anything without meditating on the subject. I certainly never meditated on the multiplication table before memorizing it. But for me ~ using ruminate as my pictorial synonym for meditate ~ passages such as the following are my inspiration to really dig in and chew on every morsel of nourishment I can get out of God’s Word before I attempt to memorize it.

        “He humbled you, allowing you to become hungry, and then fed you with man, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever known, to make you understand that a person does not live on food alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of Adonai.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:3 (CJB)

        “Taste, and see that Adonai is good. How blessed are those who take refuge in him!” ~ Psalm 34:8 (CJB)

        I hope this helps.

        Don

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  2. Whether you know about Eastern meditation or not isn’t the issue. What you describe in your meditation posts perfectly describes how it has infiltrated the evangelical church. You had asked me to tell you if you were getting close and you are, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Biblical meditation has an object – always, I find nothing in scripture about sitting in the quiet with a pen and journal listening for voices with speial private messages. I do believe the Holy Spirit, working with the written word guides us in applying scripture to our individual lives.

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