By Mike Myers, edited by Bobby Price
"I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways." — Psalm 119:15
Reading through the Bible in a year is a good practice, but one can easily fall into the trap of reading merely for distance. While there is value in covering the vast mountain range of Scripture, one must not neglect the important work of Christian meditation. Some may balk at this term, since it often refers to pagan or new age disciplines (like yoga), but the Word of God clearly teaches that meditation has a vital place in the Christian life. In this article I will define, explain, and offer some helps for Christian meditation.
I propose the following definition: Christian meditation is the focused contemplation of the renewed mind upon the treasury of divine truth. The Old Testament uses two primary words that our English Bibles translate as meditation. The blessed man of Psalm 1 delights in the Lord's Law and upon it "meditates ( הָגָה , hâgâh) day and night" (Ps. 1:2). Most basically, this term means to murmur or ponder, that is, to mull over carefully. The word translated meditate in Psalm 119:15 ( שִׂיחַ , śı̂yach) seems to refer a bit more to a preoccupation of the mind, often spilling over into speech. The NKJV translates the word as pray (Ps 55:17), complain (Ps 77:3), and even talk (Ps 119:27). Psalm 143:5 includes both words in parallel, showing their close thematic relation, "I remember the days of old; I meditate (hâgâh) on all Your works; I muse (śı̂yach) on the work of Your hands."
Practically speaking, meditation is to the soul as marination is to a fine cut of meat or as soil assimilation is for healthy crops. For the process to have its full and ideal effect, it simply cannot be rushed, skipped, or replaced. So how should we think about this discipline of Christian meditation?
The Work of Christian Meditation: focused contemplation. Psalm 119:15 says, "I will meditate," which is a commitment in response to the Word of God and the God of the Word. To maintain focused contemplation on anything takes effort, but for the Christian, this effort is necessary. It is not reserved for monks, pastors, or published theologians, but for believers in every walk of life. And while one can be a Christian without a consistent discipline of meditation, one cannot be a maturing and vibrant Christian without it. Focused contemplation, nevertheless, is difficult. Robert Dabney once wrote, "To hold the thought fixed upon the same idea is the highest function of will; it is one to which none but the noblest souls are competent."
Have you ever considered why this is so difficult? Circumstantially, we are excessively busy, endlessly distracted, and constantly interrupted. Obstacles also lie in the heart. Often laziness, carelessness, and especially worldliness keeps us from this work. May the Lord grant us more Spirit-enabled discipline to plan our circumstances and repentance to purify our hearts! Finally, Christian meditation is extremely useful. God graciously blesses devoted meditation with vibrancy and fruitfulness (Ps. 1:3), prosperity and success in His service (Josh. 1:8), wisdom and safety (Prov. 6:20-24), and especially Christlikeness. Those who gaze at Him by faith now will be made like Him then (1 John 3:2, cf 2 Cor 3:18).
Bobby Price was born and raised by Christian parents in Perrin, Texas. Bobby decided early in life to become a preacher of God's word. He attended the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas where he graduated in 2015 with his Bachelors of Biblical Studies with a focus in Congregational Ministry. Afterwards, he interned for a year at the valley view Church of Christ in Jonesboro, AR. He is currently working on his Masters of Biblical Studies, through the Sunset International Bible Institute Graduate School.