5 Ways to Meditate on Scripture

The word meditation can conjure up weird ideas of people ‘chanting mantras’ while sitting on a pillow cross legged. In the Scripture, the idea of meditation is thinking deeply about God or his word. 

Before Joshua was going to take the people into the promised land, God spoke to him about what would make him successful. He said, “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) 

Another place in Scripture we see meditation as a key to a thriving life is in Psalm 1:1-2. It says “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

As followers of Jesus, we are not just supposed to read God’s word as a religious activity but for the purpose of growing closer to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If you read and the words go in one ear and out the other, there is not much gained. Meditating or thinking deeply about God’s word after we read it can help us connect with what God wants for us. 

Here are 5 simple ways to meditate on Scripture.

  1. Emphasize Different Words in the Text 

While reading your passage(s), find a phrase or sentence that sticks out to you. Then take that phrase and examine it like you’re looking at every facet of a diamond. In John 6:68, Peter responds to Jesus’ question by saying "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Take the phrase ‘you have the words of eternal life” and emphasize different words each time you say it. 

YOU have the words of eternal life
You HAVE the words of eternal life
You have THE words of eternal life
You have the WORDS of eternal life
You have the words OF eternal life
You have the words of ETERNAL life
You have the words of eternal LIFE

As you look at the verse in different ways, you will start to see new truths to believe or apply.

2. Ask Questions of the Text 

Meditating on the text can’t be like chewing food but never swallowing it. Thinking deeply without some kind of application is a waste of time. Here are some questions you can ask of each passage or section you read to help you think deeper about a text. 

  1. Does this text reveal something I should praise or thank or trust God for? 
  2. Does this text reveal something I should pray about for myself or others? 
  3. Does this text reveal something I should have a new attitude about? 
  4. Does this text reveal something I should make a decision about? 
  5. Does this text reveal something I should do for the sake of Christ, others, or myself? 

3. Pray Through the Text

When a passage of Scripture stands out to you or you just want to pray through something, you can take the scripture thought by thought and pray through it. One of my favorites is Ephesians 3:16-18. Here is how I would pray through it. 

"16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being..." God bring me the strength I need and fill me with your power in the places I need it the most.

"17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..."  God, dwell deeply in me and make me aware of your presence.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ..." Make me a man who is rooted in your love and help me to see who you truly are, and how amazing your love is for me.

God has given us his Holy Spirit who leads us into truth (John 14:26) and as we pray the truth of Scripture, he will guide us. The Psalms are always great scriptures to pray through as well.

4. Immerse Yourself in the Narrative

There are times when you are reading a narrative or story in Scripture and you begin to imagine yourself as part of the story. This concept comes from a 16th century monk named Ignatius of Loyola. In this type of meditation, you read through a story and then allow yourself to imagine you are one of the characters in it or a bystander who is watching close by. 

As you read the passage over again, look for small details that can help you picture it. Think about what people may have been feeling based on what happened in the story. Then, focus on what it might teach you about God’s character and his work in people’s lives.

5. Study the Text

Thinking deeply about the text doesn’t have to only happen in quiet. You can do some of your best thinking with a pen and a journal. Some people think studying is complicated but it doesn’t have to be.

You can study a passage of Scripture by reading it a few times and then jotting down the things you see. You can start with the who, what, where and when of a passage. If it’s not a story, you can write down all of the truths that it shares or what it says about God. You can dig deeper if you want using commentaries, a study bible or some other resource. Studying should help us understand what a passage means.

Then, you want to ask the question: So What? You are asking, why does this matter in my life or what does God want me to do with it. It might be an action you need to take, an attitude you need to have or a new perspective about God you can internalize.

When studying the bible, I break it down into 3 steps:

O - Observe: What does it say?

I - Interpret: What does it mean?

A - Apply: What should I do because of it?

All of these methods are helpful and can be used at different times in your life. I would encourage you to start with one of them the next time you sit down with God’s word. Meditation on God’s word will help you know him better.

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