Meditation has changed my devotional life.
A little over a month ago, I listened to Dr. Whitney at Southern Seminary say that the greatest devotional need of most Christians is meditation.
“What we have here is a failure to meditate,” he would say in Cool Hand Luke fashion.
But I wasn’t quite convinced. Yeah, it sounded awesome. Mediate on Scripture, soak up more of the Word like water soaks up tea from a tea bag, get to the point where you can actually remember what you read in your devotions in the morning - great stuff. But does it actually work? Can I really, truly, actually, for real spend time meditating on a single verse even after I have read an entire chapter of the Bible? And remember it later in the day?
Maybe you’ve asked yourself these same questions. Maybe you’re struggling in your daily intake of the Word and you can’t possibly imagine being able to meditate on it. You’re lucky if you even read it, let alone think on it for longer than a few seconds.
But I’m telling you, you can.
So right now, even before you keep reading this blog post, I want you to swing on over to your favorite book seller’s website and purchase Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I am indebted to him both for most of the material I will briefly touch on today and for the jolt to my devotional life that the art of meditation has provided.
So today, I want to do three things: (1) convince you that meditation is actually worth it, (2) give you three of my favorite ways to mediate on Scripture, and (3) give you an example of Scripture meditation.
Is Scripture Meditation Really Worth My Time?
In his book on the spiritual disciplines, Whitney explains that regular intake of the Word (that is, daily reading of Scripture) is like passing by a warm fire - it might make you feel warm for a second, but after you’ve passed by the fire you will start to feel cold again. If you really want to be warm, you need to stand by the fire and absorb its warmth!
Meditation is standing by the fire of the Word and allowing it to soak into your soul and revive your cold heart.
If you’re like me, you are all but dependent on a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning. If I don’t have my morning coffee, then my whole day is thrown off.
If only we would treat the Word like we treat our morning coffee - a non-negotiable part of our routine! Meditation helps us do just that. It starts our day with purposeful, sustained thinking on the Word of God.
How Can I Put This into Practice?
How many ways are there to meditate on Scripture? If you’d asked me this question just a few months ago, I probably would have told you one. But Whitney lists out seventeen different ways to meditate on Scripture in his chapter devoted to the topic.
Yes, seventeen. That means one of those ways is bound to work for you.
Of those seventeen, three have become my personal favorites. The first is to develop a principle from the verse you choose to mediate on. You read the verse, think on it, and develop a simple, one-sentence principle from it.
The second is to think of one concrete application of the text. This one is fairly straightforward, but helps to bridge the gap between reading God’s Word and actually doing it.
The third that I have grown to love is praying through the text I have chosen to mediate on. I simply read through the passage and pray whatever comes to my mind as I am prompted by the Word.
But if these don’t work for you, there are myriad other ways to mediate on Scripture. The point is, it is possible to actually, concretely put meditation into practice. Meditation is not some impossible task reserved for spiritual giants. It is a command of Scripture for every believer.
And it’s easy.
Is This Actually Doable?
Maybe you aren’t convinced yet. Maybe it will take Whitney’s chapter on meditation in his Spiritual Disciplines book to truly sway you to the idea that meditation is something every believer can do. But I want to give you one last illustration that I think will help you see just how doable meditation really is.
The following is an actual journal entry I made as I meditated on a passage of Scripture. In this entry, I utilize two methods of meditating on Scripture: I develop a principle from the verse, then I apply it to a situation in my own life.
“Acts 3:19 - ‘Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.’
Principle: If you repent of your sins and turn away form them to Christ, he will blot out your sins.
Application: Even though I have fallen to sin numerous times this week, if I continue to repent of it and turn to Christ, he will to continue to blot out my sins!”
See how simple that is? That whole process probably took me around five minutes, but at the end of the day I was still able to remember the Bible verse that I meditated on at the beginning of the day.
So, now I want you to do two things. One, if you haven’t already, get your hands on a copy of Whitney’s book on spiritual disciplines. And two, make a commitment today that you will make meditation a priority in your own spiritual life.
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