The Bible has taught about meditation for thousands of years. Biblical meditation is unlike other forms of meditation because it focuses on the God of the Bible. Yet, those who are new to the discipline sometimes wonder how to do that.
In Christianity, meditation is first and foremost based on the Bible. Second, the object of meditation is God, which includes his nature, character, and works. Third, the purpose of biblical meditation is to glorify God and to fix the mind on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
What does the word meditation mean in the Bible? What does Christian meditation on God look like? What is the point of Christian meditation? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What does the word meditation mean in the Bible?
The Bible takes meditation seriously, so believers should, too. Some Christians avoid the practice because other religions encourage an unbiblical form of it. Yet followers of other religions pray, so should Christians avoid that, too?
What is biblical meditation? The most basic definition of meditation is to think about something. “Biblical” meditation is when a person’s thoughts are based on the Bible, specifically what it teaches about God.
Is the aim of Christian meditation “enlightenment”? No. Unlike other forms of meditation, the goal of biblical meditation isn’t to alter a person’s consciousness for the purposes of mere self-improvement or enlightenment. Biblical meditation isn’t a self-centered discipline, but a God-centered one based on the Bible.
Bible verses that encourage meditation
There are many verses in the Bible that encourage believers to meditate and dozens more that describe the activity, yet use different words (e.g. “think about,” Phil. 4:8) to do so. Below are five examples.
- Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (ESV)
- Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
- Psalm 119:15, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”
- Psalm 104:34, “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.”
- Psalm 119:97, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
The biblical defintion of meditation
|Hebrew base, speech, definition||hagah; verb; to moan, growl, utter, speak, muse|
|Translated as||declare (1), devise (2), devising (1), growls (1), make a sound (1), meditate (5), meditates (1), moan (3), moan sadly (1), mutter (2), mutters (1), ponders (1), utter (2), uttering (1), utters (1) (New American Standard Bible)|
|Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance||imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, sore, speak, study; A primitive root (compare hagiyg); to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication, to ponder — imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, X sore, speak, study, talk, utter.|
“The word meditate as used in the Old Testament literally means to murmur or to mutter and, by implication, to talk to oneself. When we meditate on the Scriptures we talk to ourselves about them, turning over in our minds the meanings, the implications, and the applications to our own lives.” ~ Author Jerry Bridges
What does Christian meditation on God look like?
Should Christians have a “blank” or “empty” mind when meditating on God? No. A believer’s focus should always be on the Bible’s teachings about God. The point of biblical meditation isn’t to drain the mind of thoughts, but to concentrate it in a holy, righteous, and Godly way.
Can a believer read or pray when meditating? Biblical meditation may include Bible reading or prayer, but strictly speaking, the word refers to activities like thinking, pondering, and reflecting. Some may find it helpful to read the Bible before meditating to ensure that the content of their thinking is scriptural. Many may also want to conclude their meditation with a prayer to praise God and thank him for the insight gained.
What should a Christian think about when meditating? The object of meditation for Christians is God. Some may come to the conclusion that the Bible is the object of meditation for Christians, but more precisely, it’s what the Bible says about God. The Bible is the starting point because God has chosen to reveal himself through its authors. For example, a person can think about what the Bible teaches about:
- God’s attributes: his holiness, sovereignty, providence, power, knowledge, love, goodness and more
- God’s names: YHWH, Jehovah Jireh, El Shaddai, Abba and more
- God’s promises: his faithfulness, decrees, prophecies and more
- God’s son: Jesus’ incarnation into human flesh, death on the cross for sin, and resurrection from the dead
What are examples of outcomes from meditating on God? A person can store up “good treasure” in themselves to help prevent sinful thoughts and actions: “The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil” (Matthew 12:35). It can also fill a person’s heart with Scripture to resist temptation: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
The purpose of meditation is to fix the mind on godliness
Philippians 4:8 describes thinking — and what a Christian should think about — as a holy activity: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
|Philippians 4:8||Greek Word||Basic Definition|
|true||ἀληθῆ||unconcealed, true, true in fact, worthy of credit, truthful|
|honorable||σεμνά||venerable, honorable, grave, serious, dignified|
|just||δίκαια||just; especially, just in the eyes of God; righteous; the elect|
|pure||ἁγνά||(originally, in a condition prepared for worship), pure (either ethically, or ritually, ceremonially), chaste|
|lovely||προσφιλῆ||pleasing, acceptable, grateful|
|commendable||εὔφημα||well reported of, spoken in a kindly spirit, laudable, reputable|
|excellence||ἀρετὴ||goodness, a gracious act, virtue, uprightness|
|worthy of praise||ἔπαινος||commendation, praise, approval|
“Meditation upon the Word of God is one of the most important of all the means of grace and growth in spirituality, yea there can be no true progress in vital and practical godliness without it. Meditation on Divine things is not optional but obligatory, for it is something which God has commanded us to attend unto.” ~ Theologian A.W. Pink
People want to hear from God for different reasons. Some are looking for direction in life. Others are seeking answers to questions they have. In other cases, people are looking for comfort, peace,...
The prophet Jeremiah is one of the most fascinating people in the Bible. The book named after him contains moments of hope in the midst of tremendous struggle and despair. People often find...