Do you meditate on Scripture? Try these biblical meditation exercises in your quiet time.
Try this 10-minute meditation miracle.
What do you think of when you hear the word meditate?
Hopefully, you don’t think of emptying your mind, going blank, and zoning out and focusing on your breathing or something weird like that. Because that is not what biblical meditation is. In fact, biblical meditation exercises are where you highly engage your mind. They are not where you blank out.
Here are a few definitions of the word meditate:
To meditate is “to engage in contemplation or reflection.”
“To focus one’s thoughts on a particular thing.”
“To plan or project in the mind.”
As you can see, meditation means to really engage your mind and allow the spirit and the truth of God’s word to do its work in you.
There’s a quote that I wanted to read you guys that I thought was really, really good. And hopefully, it will encourage you to spend some time in meditation every day, even if it’s five or 10 minutes. Because this is really a key to growing in our faith, and in our depth as a person.
Here’s what a man by the name of Maurice Roberts wrote: “Our age has been sadly deficient in what may be termed spiritual greatness. At the root of this is the modern disease of shallowness. We are all too impatient to meditate on the faith we profess. It is not the busy skimming over religious books or the careless hastening through religious duties that makes for a strong Christian faith. Rather, it is the unhurried meditation on gospel truths and the exposing of our minds to these truths that yields the fruit of sanctified character.”
Isn’t that good? So, so good.
It’s great to take in large passages of Scripture but we don’t need to neglect taking time to meditate on small passages. Even a phrase or a single word can yield such great fruits in our lives if we take the time to meditate.
How to Meditate on Scripture
So, let’s move into practically HOW do we actually meditate on Scripture? As I was thinking through how I meditate on Scripture, I came up with five different ways that I like to meditate.
I want to give you a disclaimer up front because these can sound really academic.
I’m going to tell you questions to ask and how to look at things and whatnot. It can sound really scary and academic, when in fact, meditation is not nearly so academic as it’s going to sound. It’s really fluid. It’s personal. It happens naturally once you get the knack for it.
When you’re working in conjunction with the spirit of God, it’s not something you have to force, either. It’s something that happens naturally. So, don’t feel like you have to stick with these things or you have to use a formula to meditate on Scripture. Just use the following as a guide and as a jumping-off point.
The first way I like to meditate is super easy and it’s really helpful if you have memorized the passage. Because if you’ve memorized even just a verse like Psalm 1:3, then you can meditate on it all day, anywhere you go, such as the car line or the bathroom, or anywhere else unmentionable. :)
The first way I like to meditate on Scripture is to just take the Scripture you want to meditate on and write it on a card.
Then just go through and emphasize each of the words one at a time. So emphasizing the first word in Psalm 1:3 would be, “HE will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.” And I might start asking myself, okay, “he.”
Is that he referring to a particular person? Is it referring to males only? Does it include females? Who is the “he” referring to?
I might go back in my mind and think about the passage before that, the verses before this verse, to identify exactly who that is a little more.
Then I would go to the next one. “He WILL be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.”
Will, that sounds like a promise, like an absolute. It’s not like a maybe or it “could” happen or hopefully happen… it is a WILL. It’s a promise. God is promising this.
“He will be LIKE a tree firmly planted.” And so on and so forth.
Just simply going through the verse and emphasizing one word at a time, you would be amazed at how many insights jump out at you when you take time to think through the importance of every word that is there. That’s the first way I like to meditate.
The second way I like to meditate on Scripture, and I have to tell you this is probably my favorite one, is by looking at the verbs.
I love looking at the verbs in a passage and just allowing them to inform my understanding of God and of people and of myself. When I meditate on the passage verbs I start by asking some basic questions like, “What causes this verb to happen?”
For example, if I’m looking at Psalm 1:3, “He will be like a tree firmly planted.” If I’m looking at “will be planted” as a verb, I’m going to be asking, “What causes somebody to be like a tree firmly planted?”
And then what are the effects of this? What are the effects of a tree that’s firmly planted? And then I just think…
To start with, it’s going to withstand a storm. It’s going to have fruit. It’s not going to be all wilted and shriveled. It’s going to be nourishing to others. It’s going to provide shade. All of these things come to mind.
So just think through what is the cause, what’s the effect, what are the qualities or activities of this verb?
Then I like to compare. Compare this particular verb with it’s opposite.
What’s the opposite of planted? Well, uprooted, right?
So then I think about that. What would an uprooted tree look like? What would an uprooted person look like?
What would their home life look like? What kind of life might they have in public and in private? How might that be played out?
And then I would think about synonyms, synonyms for the word planted might be rooted, right? And I might even get out a dictionary or, let’s be honest, do a Google search, lol! And just make notes of the synonyms and think on those things. Those words often provide additional insights into that particular verb.
Then I would ask how and where. How and where does this verb happen? Are there conditions that need to be met? Or are there certain locations or places where this verb happens? As you can see, there are just a lot of things that you can do once you start thinking about the verbs!
And again, it’s not like a formula or a set of questions that you have to go through and tick off. Just let your mind explore and run free when you start to think about the verbs.
The third way I like to meditate on Scripture is what I call The Second Timothy 3:16 – 17 Filter.
If you haven’t memorized this passage, it’s a really good Scripture to memorize. Here’s what it says. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate and equipped for every good deed.”
So, when I look at this Scripture, I know for a fact that it is useful to me. Because it is inspired of God and it’s profitable. The Bible says it’s profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness so that I can be equipped and able to do every good deed.
We can take this Scripture and apply it to any passage by asking, “How is this Scripture profitable and useful to do those four things in my life? What doctrine, principle, or truth is it teaching me?”
So the first thing is teaching. What is it teaching me?
The second is rebuking. That’s not a bad word, guys. It’s not a bad thing to be reproved or rebuked by the Lord because sin is dangerous and it’s not a good thing. It has consequences. And so, we want someone to tell us the truth and let us have the freedom of obedience instead of the bondage of sin, right? Here, I’m asking what wrong action, belief, or attitude is exposed in this passage? And how might I be doing those things?
The third thing Scripture does is corrects. So I might ask, “What path is revealed in this passage? Is there a way of escape that’s given in this passage where I can avoid the sin maybe that I just saw from the previous question?”
And then training. What grace, moral, skill, or habit is identified in this passage that will equip me for good works?
So, that’s the second Timothy 3:16 and 17 filter when you approach a passage. Think about how the passage you are pondering is useful to equip you in these ways.
The fourth way I like to meditate on Scripture is to ask how the text reveals the law, the gospel, or Jesus. You know, we can see Christ all throughout the Scriptures, in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We can see the gospel presented in stories in the Old Testament that were hundreds or thousands, even, of years before the coming of Christ. So, as you meditate on things, look for those revelations of the gospel or of Jesus.
Then the fifth way that I like to meditate on Scripture is to ask application-oriented questions.
This is where you’re going to start thinking of how the passage applies to you and allow the Spirit to begin to speak very personally to your heart. You might just mull over a concept over and over and over for days. Or perhaps be nourished by maybe even a single word that the Lord is just really feeding you with. That is totally great!
Here are a few application-oriented questions I’ve found really helpful. This comes from a book called Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life.
1. Does this text reveal something I should believe about God?
2. Does this text reveal something I should praise, thank, or trust God for?
3. Does this text reveal something I should pray about for myself for others?
4. Does this text reveal something I should have a new attitude about?
5. Does this text reveal something I should make a decision about?
6. Does this text reveal something I should do for the sake of Christ, others, or myself?
I think those are really good questions just to think about as you go through the verse and consider the application of that particular verse to your life.
So, there you have it: five ways I’ve found helpful for meditating on God’s word.
Again, this is not meant to be a formula, it’s simply meant to give you a starting point to just jump in there and get going if you’ve never done it before.
One final tip: I like to have a notebook on the table and the verses written there in my notebook. Throughout the day, I’ll come back to it and with my pen, just mark things up and add notes as I meditate. There’s no wrong way to do! The important thing is to get started :)
My challenge to you is to take Psalm 1:1-3 and set your timer for the next ten minutes. Meditate on this passage using one or more of the techniques mentioned above and see what happens! Then leave a comment below to share!
God bless you as you ponder His word.