First, let’s define Bible meditation.
“Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it effectually upon the heart.” Thomas Hooker
“Deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” Don Whitney
I define bible meditation as reflecting on biblical truths so they burrow themselves into our minds and affections. Meditation means absorbing God’s truths and promises through a purposeful reflection on them.
9 Summary Statements About Meditation
These don’t provide a comprehensive summary of Bible meditation, but they hopefully point us in the right direction.
1. Meditation requires reflection and slowing down.
Meditation is like savoring a food or drink. It is to linger on, enjoy, eat slowly, to draw out every taste, to note its many fragrances and flavors, and fully take it in.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)
“Reading is a gift, but only if the words are taken into the soul—eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.” Eugene Peterson
2. God urges us to meditate on his Word in the Word.
The Bible gives descriptions of meditation and commands to meditate more often than it does simply to read or study God’s Word.
“14In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Ps. 119:14-16)
“If we settle for a poor quality intake of hearing, reading, and studying God’s Word, we severely restrict the main flow of God’s sanctifying grace toward us.” Don Whitney
3. Meditation engages the whole person.
Meditation taps into both the head and the heart, our thinking and affections. It’s not merely a mental exercise but it can’t be separated from rigorous use of the mind. It’s not only about stirring up affections for God but it’s goal is to get there.
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” (Ps. 63:5-7)
“Seek to taste the glory of his goodness, communicated through his word, with the taste buds of your heart and soul. Savor the truth about Jesus and his grace. Enjoy it. Enjoy him.” David Mathis
4. Meditation leads to abiding in and communing with God.
Meditation allows extended times for knowing, worshipping, and communing with God.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you…As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:7, 9)
“A true meditation is when a man so mediates on Christ as to get his heart inflamed with the love of Christ; so meditates on the Truths of God, as to be transformed into them; and so meditates on sin as to get his heart to hate sin.” Edmund Calamy
5. Meditation is anchored in Scripture even when it extends beyond Scripture.
Meditation must be rooted in the revealed truths of God’s Word, especially as it points us to God himself. Things beside the Bible can lead to meditation, but it’s still rooted in what we know to be true from God’s Word. There’s a lot of “Christian meditation” that ignores the Bible altogether or downplays studying God’s Word as a means to meditation. It’s letting our reading of God’s Word lead us to contemplate its meaning and how it points to God. It’s seeing the world with a spiritual lens that’s informed by God’s Word.
“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24ff)
“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,” (Heb. 3:1)
“You can never have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures because you cannot be profoundly influenced by that which you do not know.” Kent Hughes
6. Biblical meditation springs from and leads to God.
Meditation can be aimed at specific passages of Scripture, promises, doctrines, God’s works, attributes of God revealed, the worship of God in heaven, our eternal destiny, and the person and work of Christ (to list just a few things). It can be built on our hearing God’s Word, reading, studying, memorizing, or thinking about God’s Word.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119:11)
“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” (Ps. 145:5)
“Meditation that is truly Christian is guided by the gospel, shaped by the Scriptures, reliant upon the Holy Spirit, and exercised in faith.” David Mathis
7. Meditation brings our spiritual disciplines together.
Meditation links and overlaps with many other practices: Bible reading, prayer, confession, thanksgiving, preaching the gospel, journaling, resting, singing, etc.
“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.” (Col. 3:16)
“The word feeds meditation, and meditation feeds prayer…Meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer…What we take in by the word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer.” Thomas Manton
8. Meditation cements the Word in us.
Without meditation, the Bible will never sink into us, become a delight to us, and equip us as followers of Jesus.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditateon it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
“15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Ps. 119:15-16)
“A Christian without meditation is like a soldier without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation, the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory slippery, and without meditation all is lost.” Thomas Watson
9. Meditation is an all-day, take-it-with-you practice.
We will meditate—give our thoughts over to something—throughout the day, so let’s meditate on God’s Word and works. We get the Word into our hearts and minds through meditation and then keep it there by returning to those truths throughout the day.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9)
“When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” (Ps. 63:6)
“The reason we come away so cold from reading the word is, because we do not warm ourselves at the fires of meditation.” Thomas Watson