How to Meditate on the Word of God

Three Parts:Choosing the SubjectFocusing on GodMeditating on the Word

Meditation is often associated with Eastern religions or New Age practices, but it plays an important role in the Christian faith, as well. One of the most effective ways to meditate as a Christian is to do so on the Word of God. Unlike other forms of meditation that require “emptying” your mind, this form requires you to dive in and think deeply on God’s truth.

Part 1
Choosing the Subject

  1. Image titled Meditate on the Word of God Step 1
    Define "meditation" in a Christian context. In a secular context, meditation is associated with emptying the mind and relaxing the body. On the other hand, meditating on the Word of God—or any other form of Christian meditation—requires you to concentrate and think deeply on God’s truth.[1]
    • Consider God's words to Joshua in Joshua 1:8 (NIV) -- "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."
    • While this verse technically only refers to what Christians consider the first five books of the Bible, you can still apply this idea to meditating on the entire Bible. Meditating on God's Word should be done frequently, and the overall purpose should be to enrich your understanding so you can apply it to your life.
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    Meditate on one verse or paragraph. This is probably the most common way to meditate on the Bible. Identify a single verse or paragraph within the Word of God to meditate over. You’ll need to dissect and explore the meaning of that verse during a concentrated amount of time.[2]
    • There’s no “wrong” choice, but if you’re not sure where to start, a good spot might be a verse from the New Testament—especially one from one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). With regards to the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms and Book of Proverbs also contain great verses to meditate over.
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    Center meditation around a specific topic. Another option worth trying would be to choose a topic explored at length in the Bible. Instead of meditating over one specific passage, you’ll need to identify several passages that deal with this topic and think deeply on how the supporting passages define or elaborate on it.[3]
    • For example, you might focus on the topic of forgiveness. Use a topical Bible or index to find different verses on forgiveness, then read through as many as possible. Look at the context surrounding each verse and compare them to one another.
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    Focus on the meaning of one word. This option is related to meditation on a specific topic, but instead of dealing with a broad topic, you’ll need to rely on the context of one or more passages to help enrich your understanding of the meaning of a significant word.[4]
    • For instance, you could choose the word "Lord." Look at verses with the word "Lord" in them, as well as verses that contain the lowercase version of "lord." Consider the contextual meaning of the term for both spellings. You may also supplement your understanding by using external resources, like a dictionary, to compare religious use to secular use of the term.
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    Study one book of the Bible. Using this technique, you’ll need to devote a longer amount of time to reading a full book of the Bible instead of merely focusing on one short passage. Dissect and explore the significance of that book, looking at the book as a whole and at individual pieces of it a little at a time.[5]
    • If this seems intimidating to you, consider starting with a relatively short book, like the Book of Esther. You may even wish to supplement your understanding with the use of a Bible study guide, but doing so isn’t necessary.

Part 2
Focusing on God

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    Find a quiet place. Like secular forms of meditation, mediating on the Word of God requires you to set yourself apart from the noise and distractions of the world long enough to focus on the task at hand.[6]
    • Multitasking may seem like a valuable skill in today's world, but you won't be able to give any task 100% while trying to balance it with something else. Minimizing your distractions while meditating on God's Word should improve your ability to focus on it.
    • Try to set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes for your meditation. Let any family or roommates know that you need time to yourself to focus, and set yourself apart in a quiet, empty room. Make yourself comfortable, but not so comfortable that you find it hard to stay awake.
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    Quiet your heart. External silence isn’t the only quiet required for this form of meditation. You also need to pursue internal quiet by setting aside your doubts, fears, and other distracting thoughts.[7]
    • Don’t feel too guilty if your mind initially wanders back to the day’s problems, but don’t let your thoughts dwell there, either. As soon as you notice yourself getting sidelined by anxieties or other concerns, take a moment to pause and consciously redirect your attention back to God. Praying for rededicated focus at that moment may also help.
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    Read the Bible. Open the Bible and read the verse or verses you plan to meditate over. Spend as much time as you need to gain a basic understanding of the words, then bookmark the verse for later; you’ll need to refer to it continually throughout your meditation.[8]
    • After you read through the passage, try reading through it again. This time, speak the words out loud and intentionally emphasize different portions by your tone, and open yourself to new revelations as you do so. Repeat this exercise as often as needed or desired during your meditation.[9]
    • If necessary, you may also wish to improve your understanding using other tools. Research the cultural context. Read through verses that are similar in tone or topic. Look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary or thesaurus.[10]
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    Pray over the readings. Spend a few minutes praying to God for guidance on your meditative efforts. Ask God to open your heart to the truth and wisdom lying within His Word.[11]
    • While the Bible may seem like little more than words on a page, try to keep in mind that the text you read comes direct from God. Asking the Holy Spirit to enrich your understanding while you meditate is, essentially, like asking an author to help improve your understanding of his story.

Part 3
Meditating on the Word

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    Take notes. Read through your chosen passage again, but this time, take notes on its content. You may wish to highlight, underline, or write short notes directly in on the page, but you should also keep a dedicated journal so that you can take more extensive notes.[12]
    • Highlighting ideas can redirect your attention to key elements during later readings, but actually writing notes on each verse will make it easier for you to think through it. Summarizing ideas and responding to them in this manner forces you to think fully on the words in front of you.
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    Think out loud. Even though your space and heart should be quiet, don’t be afraid to think out loud. Talking over the passage can help you process the information and work through its mysteries more effectively.[13]
    • You can think out loud in the form of a prayer, but you can also think out loud to help yourself work through complex ideas.
    • The Bible is often referred to as the "living word" of God. As suggested by the term "living," the text is meant to be active, which also means that you can (and should) interact with it. Don't be afraid to vocalize your questions, praise God's promises, or respond honestly to the things you read.
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    Memorize the words. While this won’t be feasible for meditation on multiple verses or full books, it’s often a good idea to memorize the passage word-for-word when meditating over a short paragraph or single verse.[14]
    • Consider using the building block method of memorization. Repeat one word or short phrase roughly 6 to 12 times. Add new words or phrases onto the first, then repeat the entire thing again. Continue until you work through the full passage.[15]
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    Rephrase the chosen passage. Spend some time writing out the meaning of the passage in your own words. Go into as much detail as possible, drawing out as much meaning as you can find in the process.[16]
    • Paraphrase the passages you read by putting them into your own words, but remember to stay true to the meaning behind God's words as you do this. The idea isn't to alter or twist the truth, but to access it in more familiar terms.
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    Evoke an emotional response. Think through the passage on which you're focusing. Try to pinpoint God's desires as expressed through those words, and attempt to align yourself with those desires so you can feel some degree of what God feels.[17]
    • By allowing yourself to feel emotion alongside God, you can make the passage you’re reading seem more “real” to yourself, which should create a richer experience. Instead of merely looking like text on a page, God’s words should seem notably more meaningful—as meaningful as they were always meant to be.
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    Actively seek the blessings of meditation. Like secular meditation, meditating on God's Word can provide you with a renewed sense of calm, but the blessings of this meditative practice can extend even deeper than that. As you meditate, seek guidance, comfort, joy, reassurance, and wisdom that come from an enriched understanding of divine truth.[18]
    • As Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) notes, "Blessed is the one [...] whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night."
    • Meditating on God's Word will give you a greater understanding of what God wants from and for you, thereby providing you with guidance. Reading of God's promises and mighty deeds can give you comfort during times of trouble and an enhanced sense of joy. Improving your understanding of God's redemptive love should offer you reassurance. Lastly, by improving your understanding of God's Word through meditation, you can equip yourself with the wisdom you need to navigate through spiritual darkness.[19]
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    Apply the words to your own life. Once you understand the depth and meaning of the meditative passage, it's time to take action. Assess your own life and determine how you can apply your new understanding of God's Word to your behaviors and perspectives, then make the necessary changes immediately.[20]
    • Consider the words of James 2:17 (NIV), which states, " by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
    • Actions are a sign of faith and understanding. Meditating on the Word of God is a practice designed to improve both faith and understanding, so action should be a natural result of effective meditation.
    • That being said, don’t assume that one 30-minute meditative session will make it easier to live by God’s Word for the rest of your life. Meditation is a discipline, and as such, you will need to continually and intentionally work at it to reap its full benefits.[21]

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Categories: Philosophy and Religion | Bibles