The late Dallas Willard said this about meditation and memorization of Scripture…
As a pastor, teacher, and counselor I have repeatedly seen the transformation of inner and outer life that comes simply from memorization and meditation upon Scripture.Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, page 47
I couldn’t agree more!
To be transformed and look like Christ, memorization and meditation are two important spiritual disciplines. While memorization is an important spiritual discipline to look into, our focus will be on biblical meditation. It is sad that this discipline has been identified with non-Christian meditative systems where the mind, heart, emotions, imaginations and will are directed to not focus on the LORD.
Biblical meditation, commanded by God and practiced by the Godly in Scripture involves filling your mind with God and truth.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.Joshua 1:8 (NRSV)
Our LORD said this to Joshua after Moses, the servant of the LORD died. That is very important for us to understand.
Why? Nothing of the love, of the compassion, of the faithfulness, of the wisdom of the LORD died when Moses died. This is extremely important for Joshua and for us.
For Joshua it was important because he would be the one to lead Israel into the Promised Land and give it to them as the LORD promised them. And Joshua would need every bit of leadership skill and wisdom that the LORD could give him.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2 “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5 No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.Joshua 1:1-5 (NRSV)
Now for believers under the new covenant of forgiveness in Jesus Christ our need to meditate is important for several reasons. Here are 4:
- Becoming Christlike. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ASV)
- Fruitfulness. Psalm 1: 1 – 3.
- Godly wisdom. Psalm 119: 98-99.
- Application of Scripture to one’s life. 1 Timothy 4: 15 (Here the phrase ‘take pains from the NASB comes from greek word meletáō and that means to care for, attend to carefully, practice, to meditate, devise, contrive).
How can one engage in this ancient discipline to receive such benefits? There are two tried and tested ways.
One is lectio divina. The other I encourage you to try as well is the 7 step meditation process described by Dr. Mark Virkler.
Here is the lectio divina process:
Lectio Divina Bible Study:
- Start your bible reading with Prayer. Ephesians 1: 17 – 20; Psalm 119: 18; 1 Samuel 3: 9
- Reading: What does the text say? First, you read the text. At the most basic level, you ask:
- What is going on in this Bible passage? Sometimes a Bible commentary is helpful to enable you to better understand the context.
- Gather facts:
- Setting the context: “ABCs”
- Author — Who wrote the passage?
- Background — When did the author live? In what culture?
- Context — How does the passage fit in with what comes before and after it? What is the biblical authors intent in this passage? Locate and mark any key words, repeated words or phrases, and commands.
- Meditation: What is God saying to me through the text? At this point, you ask whether there is something that God might want to reveal to you through this passage. Often, it might connect with something in your life.
- Prayer: What do I want to say to God about the text? After meditating on this passage, you might find yourself fearful of what you feel called to do. If it means standing up for someone who has been mistreated, or even standing up for yourself, this might frighten you.
- Action: What is God telling me to do, based on my prayer? Finally, you act. Prayer should move us to action, even if it simply makes us want to be more compassionate and faithful.
The 7 step Meditation process:
- Write: I copy the verse I am meditating on onto a piece of paper or 3X5 card, as instructed to in Deut. 17:18, and keep it with me to meditate on, memorize and mutter throughout the day(s). I also record this verse in my meditation/journal (which can be written, typed or verbally recorded).
- Quiet Down: I become still in God’s presence, loving Him through soft soaking music (2 Kings 3:15,16) and/or praying in tongues (1 Cor. 14:14), or putting a smile on my face and picturing Jesus with me (Acts 2:25). I tune to His flowing thoughts, pictures and emotions (Jn. 7:37-39).
- Reason: Come let us reason together (Isa. 1:18), meaning the Spirit guides my reasoning process. I ask, “Lord, what do You want to show me from this verse?” I tune to flow and revelation from the Holy Spirit bubbles up within me.
- Speak & Imagine: I ponder the Scripture, personalizing and speaking it to myself softy over and over again until I can say it with my eyes closed. As I repeat the Scripture, I allow myself to see it with the eyes of my heart. I note what the picture is in my mind’s eye as I repeat the Scripture.
- Feel God’s Heart: While seeing the above picture, I ask, “Lord, what does this Scripture reveal about Your heart toward me?” I feel His heart and journal it out.
- Hear God’s Rhema: I put myself in the picture of this Scripture in my mind. I ask, “Lord, what are You speaking to me through this Scripture?” I tune to flowing thoughts and flowing pictures (God’s voice and vision) and I record this dialogue in my two-way journaling.
- Act: I accept this revelation, repenting of any sin that is opposite of it and roaring at any obstacle that stands in the way of implementing it. I then speak it forth and act on it.
Blessings to you as you grow in Christ