A friend of mine asked me to define meditation. I’d love to! To be clear, we’re talking about biblical meditation, which is not emptying your mind so that anything can fill it. No, biblical meditation desires to fill yourself with God. Here’s what that looks like:
1. Seeking God’s face in my mind.
Biblical meditation is more than intense thinking about information provided by God. In Psalm 27 David is glad that he can “gaze on the beauty of the Lord” and wants to “see the goodness of the Lord.” He rejoices, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Like lovers longing to see each other, and mentally seeing what the other looks like, believers meditate when we mentally see God. Is he smiling at me, or frowning on me? Who is Jesus to me? How personal is my relationship with him? Can I describe him to others? What do I miss about him when my mind is distracted by everything else? How will I pray differently because I’m seeking his face more than my wants?
2. Delighting in God with my heart.
How many times did you read your Bible last week? That question can imply that an answer of less than seven means you are naughty. And the solution is to achieve a certain quantity of devotions. Then you’ll be a nice Christian.
To Old Testament worshipers who sought to fulfill the sacrificial laws to the letter, God complained, “Your sacrifices do not please me” (Jeremiah 6:20).
This may be too simplistic, but biblical medication is less concerned about quantity and much more interested in quality. Not duty, but delight. In Psalm 16 David says, “My heart is glad” and “You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing.” If you accomplish nothing else but enjoying the presence of God, you have accomplished much. Are you okay with that? Are your prayers like shopping lists instructing God to fill the cart, or can you be comfortable with intimate whispers to God that don’t always ask for something but can just say things like “you fill me with joy.”
3. Pushing God’s truth into my soul.
By nature our inmost being resists God’s truth, which is more powerful and promising than anything in the universe. So it doesn’t just drift into us. We don’t possess it because our name is on a church membership roster. We don’t graduate from needing to study it because we recited a handful of Bible verses in the 8th grade.
But biblical meditation is more than Bible study. It takes biblical truth and makes it part of oneself. Like roots taking in water. In Psalm 103 David is speaking to his soul about God, “who forgives all your sins.” He must remind himself “Praise the Lord, O my soul.” He recounts how the Lord “made known his ways to Moses.”
In all this, we can see how meditation starts with God’s biblical truth, then takes hold of it and pushes it into one’s soul. Again. And again.
4. Resting in God as my strength.
Biblical meditation offers a break from trying to outwork God. When people say “just let it go,” I’m careful to define that letting go as more of handing off—not just releasing into nothingness but relinquishing control to God himself. “God, you can handle this better than I can.”
An indicator that you are growing in the spiritual discipline of meditation is when you can rest in God as your strength even when you are “in trouble.” Psalm 46 seems to be written during tumultuous circumstances, but even in the worst of times we can still meditate, still turn to God as our “refuge and strength,” and “therefore we will not fear.”
PRAYER: Dear God, teach me how to better meditate on you, seeking your face, delighting in you, pushing your truth into my soul, and resting in you as my strength. I love you. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Psalm 1, where meditation promises at least three things: stability, character growth and delight. Refer to the teaching of Psalm 1 to help you describe each of these using other words. Share with a friend.