When I first heard someone tell me to meditate on the word of God, I was confused. Meditate? Isn’t that something that’s from eastern mysticism? What has that to do with the bible? Then I was reading through the book of Joshua. In the very first chapter, God is speaking to Joshua and tells him:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 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. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
So, mediation is in the bible, but what does it actually mean? Do I have to sit cross-legged and hum to myself while trying to empty my mind? Thankfully, the answer to that is ‘no’. The biblical word for mediate literally means “to murmur.” That doesn’t mean we are to aimlessly repeat the words over and over again, but we’re to remind ourselves of them while saying them out loud. The best way to explain it is to think of a cow in a field. Seriously, cows have got the right idea about meditation. Let me explain. A cow has four stomachs to help process the grass they eat. When a cow eats grass, it swallows it down to the first stomach, where it’s partially digested. Then a cow regurgitates the partially digested grass, chews it some more and then swallows it to the second stomach and so on until the grass is fully digested. That’s what meditating on the word of God is like.
Here’s a simple step by step guide to help you with biblical meditation.
1. Choose a time to meditate on the Word of God
It’s far easier to build a consistent habit if you do it at the same time each day. It doesn’t matter when it is, as long as it’s consistent each day. If you’re a morning person, then pick an early time. If you’re a night owl, then find a slot in the evening. A simple trick to building a habit is to tie it in with something you do already. Maybe take a moment before you clean your teeth in the morning or evening and use that time for meditating on God.
Before you meditate on the word of God, pray a simple prayer like “Father, will you teach me about you?” God loves answering prayers like this as He wants to reveal His nature to His children.
3. Pick a verse
It doesn’t have to be long; in fact, I’d urge you to keep it short, especially if you’re starting to learn scripture meditation. The Glorify app is perfect for this as it has a scripture for you to read every day.
4. Read the verse slowly and out loud
We always seem to be in a rush, we want things quicker and quicker, and we’ve lost the beauty in slowing down. Don’t be tempted to rush your scripture meditation; take your time as you read. Glorify helps you with this as the app spaces out the words in each verse so you can take your time and let the words begin to soak into your mind. Reading it aloud makes a difference, even if you whisper it. Something profound happens when our ears hear God’s word spoken, and our mind begins to change.
5. What stands out?
Was there a keyword that caught your attention? Maybe it was an idea or a broad theme? Or perhaps as you were reading, the words sparked another thought in your mind. There is no correct answer; God will reveal different things about Himself to different people; what’s important is that you begin to learn about Him through the process.
6. Write it down
Take a moment to write out what stood out to you and what you were thinking about as you read the verse. One sentence is enough, it helps you solidify what you were meditating on, and you can refer back to it.
7. Chew the cud
Now we get to act like the cow chewing the cud. Pick a time between two and four hours away and set your alarm as a reminder. When the alarm goes off, stop what you’re doing and read over the verse again while asking the Father to continue to reveal Himself to you. Is there anything new that stands out? This is the process of meditating on the word of God. Write down anything you’ve thought of and set your alarm for another two to four hours in the future.
8. Repeat for 24 hours
This is where we really start to chew the cud and gather all the goodness from our meditation on the word of God. Taking our time to soak in one scripture for 24 hours allows God repeated moments to reveal Himself and to reinforce whatever He is showing us.
Meditation isn’t supposed to be a one-off event. God told Joshua to meditate on His word day and night. The idea is of a continual, lifelong habit of biblical mediation.
Some extra thoughts
- It can be helpful to learn from others and use their understanding to guide us as we discover more and more about our amazing God. The devotions included in the Glorify app are a useful tool for this and can be a great aid to your meditation. It’s important to take your time when learning to meditate on God’s word. He isn’t in a rush and you don’t have to be. As you begin the mediation journey, it can feel strange, stay with it, relax and enjoy the process. Finally, don’t beat yourself up for missing a day; there is no gold star for attendance. Don’t worry if you miss a day; just show up the next day and keep going. Remember, it’s a loving Father who is revealing himself to you; it’s about relationship, not about ticking a box or trying to impress anyone.