Chapter 2: What the bible says about meditation
As we noted in Chapter 1, Christian meditation is a form of prayer that is encouraged and practiced in the bible. There are numerous scriptures on prayer and meditation throughout the bible. They instruct Christians to meditate frequently, and to use this time to intentionally focus on God’s words and his deeds. The Bible provides guidance on what Christian meditation should look like. Unlike some forms of meditation that seek to empty the mind, Christian meditation is actually a very focused practice. So what should we focus on?
Christians Should Meditate on God’s words
The bible tells us that when we meditate, we should first and foremost meditate on God’s words. There are a lot of bible verses about prayer and examples of meditation in the bible, but let’s begin by looking at a few:
After Moses’ death, when Joshua is chosen by God to lead Israel, the Lord gives him instructions for leadership. Key among these is to spend time on scripture:
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8, NIV)
The Psalms, often referred to as the prayer book of the bible, open with an injunction for us to focus on scripture:
“Blessed is the one...whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1, 1-2, NIV)
And in the new testament, when Paul writes to Timothy to give him instruction for his ministry and his life, filling his mind with God’s word and truth is key to living:
“Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” (1 Timothy 4:15 NKJV)
Christians Should Meditate on God’s Character and Deeds
In addition to listening to God’s words and focusing on the things he has said to us, the bible also exhorts Christians to meditate on who God is and what he has done.
Meditating on God’s person and action can be a source of strength when we need it. In the Psalms, King David is frequently in anguish and turmoil. In these moments, instead of losing hope, he meditates on God’s character and his past faithfulness. Psalm 77 says
“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’ (Psalm 77:12, NIV)
And again in Psalm 143:
“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143: 5, NIV)”
Meditating on God’s actions can also be a form of praise and thanksgiving. In Psalm 24, the Psalmist is in happier spirits and celebrating God’s deliverance. In this midst of this experience, he contemplates just how good the presence of God is:
“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple. (Psalm 27:4, NASB)”
How Should Christians Meditate?
As we’ve seen, examples of meditation in the bible make it very clear on what the focus of our meditation should be (God’s words, his character, his deeds). There’s less details on the mechanics of meditation, but Christian leaders throughout history have offered practical guidance on how to meditate. Today, there are numerous resources which can help us practice biblical meditations, including apps like Behold. Before we dig into how to practice meditation, let’s take a quick look at what various Christian leaders have said about their own meditative prayer practices in Chapter 3.