If we’re going to see the things which go on around us from God’s higher viewpoint, we will need to slow down and pay attention to Him. Last time we talked about slowing down in how we pray. Today we are continuing that theme by talking about how to connect with the Lord’s heart through slowing down in our Bible reading.
Reading the Bible in large chunks at one sitting is great, but meditating on small portions of what we read is also essential. Personally, I think quantity reading, with some in-depth study thrown in at times, should never be neglected. But absorbing Scripture in bite-size doses, where we take extended time to think on what we are reading, adds another dimension to interacting with the Lord through His Word. It is not a matter of choosing one or the other: we need both types of reading.
Some believers are afraid of that word “meditate” because of what New Age and Eastern religion advocates do, where they try to empty their minds to self-project themselves into other-worldly experiences. We are not in any way going there! Meditation, in the biblical sense, simply means to thoughtfully consider, chew on, or take time to digest. It’s time the Church stopped being afraid of this!
The Bible talks about meditating on the Lord Himself (this is part of waiting on Him in prayer, which we talked about in the last post), and also meditating on His Word. Psalm 63:6 says, “I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the night watches,” and Psalm 104:34 comments, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.”
Concerning meditating on Scripture, Psalm 119:97 says, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all day long.” Psalm 119:148 comments, “My eyes look forward to the night watches, that I might meditate in Your Word.”
Psalm 49:3 tells us that meditating on the Lord, His ways, and/or His Word brings wisdom and understanding: “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” I encourage you to look up “meditate,” “meditating,” and “meditation” in a Bible concordance. You will be surprised how much the Bible has to say on this subject.
I like to do my quantity reading in the evening, but I often meditate on a phrase of Scripture when I first start praying in the morning. If I start out early in the day by mulling over a small piece of the Word, I’m likely to return to thinking about it at other moments all through the day.
How do you pick a verse to meditate on? I often simply ask the Lord to put one on my heart. Sometimes He immediately surprises me with one I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. At other times, a verse catches my attention during my regular course of reading.
I read the verse or phrase through several times, praying it back to the Lord for myself, thanking Him for it, or simply talking to Him about it. I may look it up in several translations or use Strong’s Concordance to check out the meanings of the original Hebrew or Greek words.
I write the verse or phrase down in a notebook, along with any insights or related verses which come to mind. I may move on to a new verse in a few days, but if it keeps sticking with me, I will continue to chew on it for a week or two. The time frame isn’t important. You don’t have to do a new one each day. Just don’t be in a hurry.
If you are still not sure how to get started, John Paul Jackson wrote a book on the subject which may help to clarify things for you. It’s called The Art of Praying the Scriptures (Amazon affiliate link).
Besides slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, we also have to learn to slow down in our responses to problematic circumstances which arise, and that’s what we will talk about next time.