Summary: What is Biblical meditation and how is it beneficial for Christians?
Psa 119:97 m Mem. O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Most Christians have listened again and again to admonitions that they read the Bible for themselves. Yet according to statistics, less than 1/5 of American believers read scripture daily. If spending time in God’s Word is really so important for spiritual growth, why aren’t more people doing it? Why does Bible reading sometimes feel like pure drudgery? How is it that when we do read, we often come away feeling just as spiritually cold as when we started? I am convinced that the major reason for this is that we have forgotten how to meditate. The Puritan pastor, Thomas Watson, spoke of this when he stated, “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”
Meditation, as a Christian discipline, has been largely forgotten by the modern evangelical church so that when they hear the term, most Christians think of the practices of Eastern religions, wherein the mind is “emptied.” But Biblical meditation is much different. In Biblical meditation, instead of emptying the mind, the practitioner fills his/her mind with thoughts of God and/or scripture and ponders upon them. This type of meditation is spoken of and practiced in many places in the Bible and it is a wonderful and necessary vehicle for spiritual growth.
There are two Hebrew words translated as meditation in the Old Testaament. The most common, hagah, means to murmur or mutter. The other, shiyach, means to talk to oneself. Thus, Biblical meditation involves focusing one’s mind on scrip-ture or the attributes of God, speaking those ideas to oneself and ruminating on them. It differs from prayer in that we are not precisely talking to God but rather, reflecting on Him. And although it often involves scripture, it is not the same thing as study. One could say that meditation is to the Word of God what digestion is to food. Food is of little use if we fail to digest it well. Doctors tell us that the digestion process that takes place after swallowing is not enough to pro- cess our food completely. If we want to maximize the nutritional benefit, we must first chew it well. Likewise, we must ponder the scripture, attempting to expand our understanding of it and consider how it applies to our own experience in order for it to provide us with the highest benefit. Spurgeon called this process, “the machine in which the raw material of knowledge is converted to its best use.” He points to people who read the Bible and can even recite it, but who really know nothing of its power. This, he says, is because they fail to convert it to a useful state. “Instead of putting facts into the [wine] press of meditation, and fermenting them until they can draw out inferences, they leave them to rot and perish. They extract none of the sweet juice of wisdom from the precious fruits of the vine-tree. A man who reads only a tenth part as much, but who takes the grapes of Eschol that he gathers, and squeezes them by meditation, will learn more in a week than your pendant will in a year, because he muses on what he reads."