When you’re ready to go deeper in your relationship with God, learning how to meditate on the Word of God is essential for our spiritual growth. In this article, Caroline Saunders puts the concept of meditation into practice with 5 simple, helpful tips to help you feast on God’s Word more effectively.
The book of Psalms begins with a description of a happy guy with one particular habit: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
God’s Word fills this man with delight. And so he fills himself with God’s Word all day long. Or, as the psalmist puts it, he ‘meditates’ on it day and night.
Meditating on God’s Word
The concept of meditating on the Word of God is sprinkled throughout the Bible. In fact, this was the primary counsel God Himself offered Joshua after Moses’ death, when Joshua was preparing to lead God’s people. God told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8).
Cultivating a Lifestyle
When we look at both the psalmist and Joshua, we can see that a lifestyle of meditating on the Word of God is related to both happiness and to hard work. Who among us is not eager for more joy? Who among us is not faced with a task that feels too difficult? It seems we all need to meditate on the Word of God.
And yet, what does it really mean to meditate on the Word of God? Moreover, how do we do it? There are plenty of barriers to these questions. After all, the idea of meditating is often co-opted by our modern associations with the word. And it’s easy to think of meditation as something vague and foggy. But it’s actually something real that can be implemented into real life.
Devouring the Word
The Hebrew word for ‘meditate’ is helpful here. It’s used in one other way in Scripture: to describe the way a predator growls over its prey. Imagine the sounds a lion makes as it hovers over its dinner and begins to devour it. (I have a hunch it’s similar to my husband when he’s eating ribs). This is how the happy psalmist hovered over the Word of God, this is how Joshua was to take in the Word of God as he led Israel, and this is how you and I are to meditate on the Word of God. (You can learn lots more about the Hebrew word for ‘meditate‘ from this podcast!)
As it turns out, meditating on God’s Word is not unlike the noises people make when they’re eating something really delicious and have forgotten their manners.
To help us better understand how to meditate on God’s Word, let’s lean into the eating metaphor. After all, Jesus Himself connected God’s Word to food as He combatted temptation. He responded to Satan, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
We, too, can live from God’s Word! Here are five helpful tips to help you ‘feast’ on God’s Word through meditation.
1. INVEST IN YOUR DIGESTION
The Bible is a big book. Meditation is not an effort to cram all of it into our brains at once. Rather it’s allowing small portions of it to sink into our hearts and dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). So, honor your spiritual digestion by considering your portion size. One practical place to start is a short psalm, like Psalm 23. This familiar passage contains only six verse. Yet they pack a punch, giving your mind plenty to feast upon.
It’s helpful to remember the generations of God-followers who didn’t have a copy of the Scriptures in their homes. They couldn’t have ‘quiet times’ as we tend to understand them. Instead, they carried small pieces of God’s Word in their hearts. They considered these as they went about their daily lives. How refreshing to remember that in seasons when we don’t have the option to sit and read large portions of Scripture, we can still experience God’s Word richly by meditating on it!
2. EAT ALL THE TIME
Many of us imagine meditation as something that is done in a quiet room with candles and calming music. And yet, that kind of atmosphere is certainly not something we can access ‘day and night’. Instead, we need to find a way to integrate meditating on God’s Word into the fabric of our everyday lives.
One practical way to do this is to have a verse or a small passage ‘on deck’ so that you have somewhere specific to direct your mind during mindless times. Consider the times during your day when your mind wanders and you find yourself overthinking past conversations, worrying over the future, or scrolling social media. Consider the time you spend doing tasks that require your hands but not your mind, like cleaning or running carpool. All of these moments are opportunities for meditation, to redirect your mind to a specific place in God’s Word.
3. EAT LOUDLY
Meditating on God’s Word does not have to be a quiet act. In fact, if you consider the definition of the word ‘meditate’, it seems this is a noisier practice than we may realize! Saying a passage or a verse out loud over and over is a practical way to keep your mind and body engaged with the text and can take the pressure off of the sometimes intimidating concept of meditation. There are a few glorious side effects to this practice, like memorization and speech transformation. As your tongue becomes more accustomed to speaking God’s Word, you will notice how it begins to infiltrate your prayers and your speech.
4. EAT WITH FOCUS
A feasting predator focuses on his feast. After all, he knows the food before him is good for him—and just plain good. It has both function and flavor. God’s Word does this too, offering our souls both nourishment for growth and flavor for enjoyment. Therefore, this feast warrants our full attention.
Picture the way a food-lover pays attention to the various flavors and textures of his or her meal. We can employ the same level of attention to the passage or verse before us. When you meditate on God’s Word, seek to focus. Pray that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will produce in you self-control to focus on the text before you. Find wise ways to guard against distraction. You may consider using the Notes app on your phone or keeping Post-It notes within reach so you can quickly scribble down distracting thoughts that creep in, like that forgotten grocery item or the email you forgot to respond to. Then, your mind will be freed up to focus on the feast before you.
5. EAT WITH CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS
Though focus is important, we always want to be able to serve our people well. It’s crucial to remember that meditation is something integrated into your regular life, which is likely filled with people who will need to interact with you. Remember that God’s counsel to Joshua to meditate on His Word was for the purpose of leading people. Joshua’s meditation had to easily flow into interaction with others—and it was the very thing that would empower him to serve them well. If you are focusing on a passage and are interrupted by a kid asking for a snack or a co-worker needing wisdom, wonderful! Let God’s Word carry you into that task with patience and kindness. Perhaps this interaction is one of God’s many purposes for using this passage in your life.
Simply put, meditating on God’s Word is the act of savoring His Truth and letting it dwell within us. It has both function (helping us love God and love others) and flavor (filling us with delight), and it can be woven into the fabric of our daily lives, giving us what we need to live.
Meditation may sound strange or intimidating at first, but in many ways, it’s as simple as eating your favorite meal. May you meditate on God’s Word like a wild animal about to devour his tasty lunch, fully convinced that this feast is a really, really good one!
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This was so practical and helpful. Often we see these commands in Scripture and we know we should do them, but we struggle to imagine what it might look like in everyday life. Your words help me to imagine practically what it is to meditate on God’s word. Thank you.
Thank you for reading, Shannon! So glad this was helpful!
We read these passages in the Bible and know them well, but then God send someone like you to explain things in a certain way that is so easy to understand and apply.
Meditating for me is seen in a very different light now. Thank you
Cheryl, I am truly delighted to hear this. Cheering you on!
It was a delightful read! I’m excited to feast on the Word. Thank you Caroline.
What a wonderful thing to hear! Rooting for you, Lorraine!
This is a wonderful article! I love the part about meditating on God’s word and cultivating a lifestyle. I believe that daily devotion is key to your spiritual growth and natural success.
I agree, Janice! God seems to really honor those day-by-day investments. Thank you for reading!