“I will meditate on your precepts and focus on your behavior.” (Psalm 119:15 NET)
I was 21 years old the first time I read a book that would be one of the most significant influences in my life. Since then, I have re-read it numerous times. The book is Knowing God by J. I. Packer.
In the first paragraph, Packer quotes the then 20-year-old C. H. Spurgeon who said, “…the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”1 After a life of study and ministry, I agree with that statement more than ever and believe it should be one of the key purposes of all Christians. Purposing to meditate on God’s character is one of the most significant and powerful things anyone could do.
Some of us may equate meditation with that great sculpture The Thinker by Auguste Rodin. It’s a man sitting on the world with his elbow on his knee and fist under his chin. Some think he was contemplating the universe but I think he was just wondering, “Where did I leave my clothes?”
In all seriousness though, “it makes no sense for us to try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”2
God is a person and meditating on Him will allow us to not only know about Him but also to know Him and serve Him better. As we contemplate Someone so vast and deep it will expand our souls and minds more than a person who simply focuses on things of this world. It will drown our pride and humble us in its immensity. And it will comfort us in our griefs, refresh us in our weariness, and inspire us in our discouragements. The best thing in life bringing more joy and contentment than anything else is knowledge of God (Jeremiah 9:23).
How does one meditate on God? I’ll let you in on a little secret: we all know how to meditate already. That in essence is what worry is, meditating on situations, circumstances, and their hypothetical outcomes. Meditating on God is like worrying only we are plugging in truth about God instead of “what ifs” and “if onlys.”
If reading Scripture is like tasting food, meditation is like digesting it. It gets inside and transforms our minds, affecting who we are and how we live. Meditating on God’s character necessitates reading Scripture by which we get specific true knowledge of all God’s attributes and character. But meditation moves beyond reading to reflecting, considering, pondering, and contemplating.
We meditate by becoming like sheep and cows who are ruminants meaning they chew the cud. They eat something and then regurgitate it later to chew on it and digest it more fully to derive more nutrition out of it.
When we mediate on God’s character we bring Scripture or one of God’s attributes to our minds and we chew on it. We deliberately fix our minds on God, His works, and His Word. We ponder those truths in light of our life and situation and vice versa. We mull it over, roll it around, and purposefully direct our minds to focus, concentrate, and reflect.
Here are some practical suggestions for doing biblical meditation.
- Select a time and place when you are alert and undisturbed
- Choose an attribute or characteristic of God that is relevant to your life at this time
- Select Scripture that speaks of that characteristic. (Hint: a Google search of the topic will present you with a list of relevant verses)
- Pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you in a deeper way through the verses
- Jot down your thoughts, questions, and observations
- In light of your meditation ask, “Is there something different I need to believe? Is there some action I should stop or start?”
- Pray about what you learn and talk to God about applying it to your life
- Share what you’re learning with others
- Start today
Pastor Swindoll says, “Today is a great day to pause and reflect on the holiness of God.”
1. J.I. Packer, Knowing God (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973), p. 13.
2. Ibid., p. 15.