Meditating on the word
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. (Joshua 1:8)
The idea of meditating on God’s word might seem a bit strange and alien to the Christian faith. ‘Meditation’ probably brings up images of Eastern religions or philosophy, or modern practices of mindfulness. It might seem difficult to see how that fits with Christianity and Christian worship.
Yet the Bible does talk about meditating on God’s word. But the Bible’s view of meditation is quite different from meditation in other religions. For a lot of philosophies meditation involves emptying your mind, perhaps using a mantra to drive out other thoughts. In the Bible, meditation is all about filling your mind: with what God has said and done, and the truths that God speaks to us and over us. The word the Bible uses for meditate is related to the word to ‘chew’. As we meditate on God’s word, so we chew it over, experiencing its full flavour and getting the most of its benefits.
In our earlier post this week, we thought about the need to ‘inwardly digest’ God’s word. Meditation is a way to do that inward digesting as we chew on God’s truth. But how do we do that? I want to introduce one way which we might meditate on God’s word, something called lectio divina.
Lectio divina (which means ‘divine reading’) has a Latin name because it’s a very old practice. But don’t let that put you off! It’s really just a simple structure to help us stop, really listen to Scripture and let it speak to us in the power of the Spirit. It has four stages:
Read: Read through a passage of Scripture. This might work best for a shorter passage so you can read it through a few times. You could even read it out loud. This isn’t Bible study, so don’t worry about understanding every detail. Rather it’s about listening carefully to God’s word.
Meditate: What struck you as you read that passage? How is God particularly speaking to you through it? It is helpful to identify one part of the passage that jumped out at you. Listen to what the Spirit is saying through that. Turn those words over in your mind: what do they say? What speaks to you? Why has God highlighted this for you today?
Pray: Turn those words and Scripture into prayer. Take your thoughts and meditation and speak to God about them. As God has spoken to you in his word, now speak back to him in prayer.
Contemplate: Recognise the presence of God with you by his Spirit, and at work through his Word. What is God doing in your life at this moment? How is he changing and transforming you as you read and meditate? How will you live life differently as a result of this encounter?
As we start out with this way of reading God’s word, it can be useful to work through each stage in turn. But really they are all connected and it may be that you move from reading to meditating to reading again and then to prayer, etc. Don’t be constrained by those four stages, but use them as a guide to meet with God in his Word.
Why not try some lectio divina and see how it goes? It may not be for everyone and might take some practice, but it could be a helpful way for us to meditate on God’s word each day.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash