A key part of understanding what we read is to read the Bible reflectively. The questions below are not exhaustive, but they provide a framework of Look, Understand, Apply, and Pray to guide your reading. Find ways that help you study and apply God’s Word. Take notes; write down thoughts and prayers; ask questions; chew on or meditate on what you see; and ask a friend or use a good Study Bible or commentary if something doesn’t make sense.
“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen
Continuing the series of posts on Bible meditation, I wanted to list some practical ideas for how to do it. While meditation can be a result of reflecting on something in creation, life experiences, conversations, our future in eternity, or other things, we’ll focus on meditating on Scripture.
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.
“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
Starting on September 9th, I’ll teach a four-week class on Bible meditation. I’ve taught classes on Bible study–which are important–but I believe a missing link between reading the Bible and it landing on us with staying power is meditation.
“Prayer is not helpful. Prayer is not supplemental. Prayer is essential.” Ray Ortlund
Luke 18:1-8—Prayer: The Voice of Desperation
The Bible says a lot about prayer. You don’t have to know all these things to start praying, but they can help us better pray in line with God’s will and desire. Below are condensed, summary statements on prayer in the Bible. This list is a taken from a Group Study Guide on Spiritual Disciplines. This might help us know ways to pray, what to pray about, how to approach God, or why some things might not be answered. Hopefully the list frees us up as we see how different praying can look and how God is at work in and through our praying.
“Look, prayer is spilling your guts. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be particularly eloquent or even particularly intelligent. But the Bible is how God speaks to us and prayer is how we speak to God. These two rhythms form the dynamic of our friendship with the God of the universe. You can’t be good friends with someone you don’t listen to, and you can’t be good friends with someone you don’t talk to. So we go about our personal devotions by studying the Bible to hear what God would say to us and then praying to God that he would forgive us for our hard-heartedness against his Word and empower us to understand it better and make it resonate more deeply in our hearts. Spilling our guts in prayer is how we process God’s words to us. Prayer is how we interact with our friend Jesus.” Jared Wilson