In our discussions the word “meditate” has been brought up during our women’s gathering on the book ‘Discipline’ by Elizabeth Eliott. In praying, I hope to shed some light on the biblical meaning of ‘meditation’ and equip you with scriptural understanding.
The world has taken the use of the word ‘meditation’ and it carries a completely different meaning. The secular use of the word ‘meditation’ and other religious practices of ‘mediation’ are not the same thing as the scriptural principle of meditation. My effort is to simply stick to scripture and truths from God’s Word. This isn’t comprehensive, just intended to encourage you in a Biblical direction.
Firstly, meditation is Biblical. It is used all over the book of Psalms beginning in Psalm 1. In Joshua 1:8, the verse prior to the popularly memorized ‘be of good courage’, says “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it….” It’s in the Bible, but what does it mean?
Biblical meditation does not involve an “emptying of your mind”. While this is a common definition for the term ‘meditate,’ it unfortunately embraces other non-Christian religious practices. There is a difference between ‘Being still and knowing He is God ’Psalm 46:10 and ‘emptying your mind’- one is a matter of the heart, the other is human effort of the mind. Rather Paul tells us to “Set our mind..” in Colossians 3:2.
Biblical mediation is focused. While the world has taken meditation to be a mental purging of sorts, biblical meditation is intentional thinking. Scripture is clear on suggesting what we should meditate on, below are a few.
- Psalm 77:12 “I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of your deeds.”
- Palm 119:15 “I will meditate on Your precepts…”
- Psalm 119:148 “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on your Word.”
- Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.”
Biblical meditation always leads to Jesus. It’s a common tactic of the enemy in prayer, that we get sidetracked with grocery lists, and errands- this would be no different. Having the gift of self-control is needful to maintain focus on the Lord and the things of the Lord. The Holy Spirit can lead your thoughts as you draw close to Jesus. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:7 & 8.
Biblical meditation verses prayer. There is a distinction between the two. One is presenting your needs, finding His help and seeking His will (Hebrews 4:16), while meditation is focusing on God, and not your needs. However, these two can coexist. We can often spend time in quiet prayer and then begin to meditate and ponder the scriptures. The Lord often leads us in our prayers to meditate and bring us back to what is most important – Jesus.
Biblical meditation should free you to practice this as God leads you. The Bible doesn’t offer us a formula on what posture, location, time or place; it simply encourages us to meditate on the Lord. Just like God’s heart towards us, He gives us the freedom (without tradition or pressure) to exercise meditating on Him throughout the day, even amidst the daily hustle. Personally, I’ve found myself mediating upon His Word while washing dishes, and it has been a blessing.
As a Christian, we have the privilege to partake in meditating on God’s Word. It’s a form of intentional thinking upon the Lord and deliberate seeking of Him. While the world would settle for an emptying of the mind to find what they are looking for, we have already found Him! Rest sweet sisters and receive the fullness of His peace and love in meditating upon Him today.