There are five paths to the brain. Minds are informed in our capacity to touch, taste, see, hear, and smell.
Taste was a path of insight for Jeremiah. He found wisdom through his stomach. When God spoke to the prophet, he didn’t just listen. He ate what God said! “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV). The prophet devoured God’s truth and found His Word tasty. He assumed that others called by God’s name would also be gourmets of wisdom. There were others. Both Ezekiel and John dined on what God had to say (Ezekiel 3:1, Revelation 10:9). Three meals. One principle. We feed on the Word of God. Three pictures. One word. Meditation—by which the truth becomes part of us.
Meditation is highly valued within Scripture. Joshua was commanded to meditate upon God’s Law day and night (Joshua 1:8). The book of Psalms begins with an assurance of blessing upon those who meditate upon God’s Word (Psalm 1:2). Clearly, meditation is an appropriate response to God’s Word. It’s not our default response. We’re prone to treat the Bible like a textbook and we’re cramming for a test. We know how to read, analyze, colour code, timeline, and graph the Scriptures, (all good!) but meditation is a neglected skill. In fact, meditation is suspect by some. Christians are not the only ones who meditate and non-biblical practices create an “arm’s length” attitude when it comes to this discipline. But, just because others eat in unhealthy ways, it does not mean we all should avoid eating. So allow me to offer a brief corrective.
Some picture meditation as a process of discharge—carving out internal empty space. Biblical meditation is not a void to maintain with empty head and heart. There is content to biblical meditation. We are to consider deeply the works and words of God. Paul commanded that we think on things that are just and excellent (Philippians 4:8). The cup is to be filled, not emptied. Some view meditation as a skill for self-improvement. Meditation is a verb where we are both the subjects and objects. But God is the focus of our soul’s attention. Biblical meditation is not a route for self-awareness or a ladder to achieve self-fulfilment. Gospel people embrace the good news that our Saviour does for us what we could never do or receive on our own. This grace is for His glory. He is always centre stage. So while there may be some overlap of language and practice, biblical meditation is as distinct from its popular expressions as day is from night. It remains a command and a promise from God.
So how do we do it? What does meditation look like? If you allow me to over squeeze the metaphor, I will quote my mother with table wisdom. If meditation is like eating God’s Word, then:
“Chew Your Food.” Scripture is to be chewed. Spend time with it. In meditation we return to a text, not just to swallow, but to process its truth reflectively for our whole life.
“Take Small Bites.” Gulping chapters of Scripture may provide chunks of information, but meditation is not about data. It’s about heart change, which is often incremental. Small bites will go a long way.
“Eat Slowly.” The way we hurry our devotional space, God must wonder if we have somewhere better to be. Meditation by its nature can’t be rushed. Take time to be present. There is no spiritual fast food.
“Don't rush after eating.” Indigestion results from eating and running. Let the pace of meditation guide your day. It invites us to rest in the truth God has given. Our feet may scurry but our souls don't have to.
“Eat frequent small meals.” David turned his soul Godward seven times in a day (Psalm 119:164). Seven times may be more than you can handle, but meditation is a discipline that flourishes with repetition.
“Don’t skip the table.” Loss of appetite signals ill health. Avoiding reflective heart engagement of Scripture may suggest deeper problems.