“Brokenness precedes usefulness.” Despite our failures, despite our weakness and weariness, despite what was done to us or what we’ve done to others, and despite hard seasons that feel like we’ve been put in the garage because we’re no longer useful, God uses broken people. In fact, God often walks us through a season of suffering or humility to make us usable.
One joy of studying the Word rather than giving it a cursory reading is all the truth that starts to pop. Read through anything quickly and little will stand out. Read things slowly and thoughtfully, and you’ll experience reading in a whole new way. One thing slowing down forces us to do is to ask questions about the Bible. What does a word mean? Why did the writer use that sentence order or repeat that phrase several times? Where else from Scripture might they be drawing from? If we pause to chew on one word, one promise, one truth, or one phrase, we’re much more likely to be gripped by it and do something with it.
“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.
What is identity?
Our identity is who we are and what is most important about us. Our identity is how we define ourselves at our core and what makes an individual who they are. It’s not merely a reputation or our image—what we or others think about us—but it’s what we understand as basic and defining about us. Image comes out of identity, but identity is more fundamental.
Erik Raymond has become one of my favorite authors, and not just because of his love for Boston and its sports teams. I regularly visit Erik’s site at The Gospel Coalition: Ordinary Pastor. He writes with a pastor’s love of the Word and love of people. You can always bank on his words being Christ-centered, and therefore, full of the life-giving grace of Jesus. Like Jared Wilson, Raymond uses a very readable, conversational, sometimes humorous tone to find new ways to drive the same old gospel into the heart.
“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