Meditation

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For an excellent discussion on the importance of meditation please see How To Meditate On God's Word, by my friend Stephen Simpson.

We live in an age where entertainment of various types is widely available and it is quite possible to fill all of one's uncommitted time with the enjoyment of these entertainments. While entertainment in and of itself is not a bad thing entertainment becomes bad when it consumes all of our time and it becomes especially bad when it takes from our time with God. You may well ask "How much of my time belongs to God?" The answer is all of it. Every second that you "own" is given to you by God and is His to command. Any activity that takes our time from God is harmful. The Israelites were commanded by God at Mount Sinai to meditate upon the scripture at every opportunity.

These words, which I command you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

The overwhelming idea of this command was that the words of God would constantly be on the mind of His people. They were to think about God and what He has said at every opportunity. His words were to greet them as they entered their homes. His words were to be on their minds as they lay on their beds. His words were to be their guide as they went about their business. In every aspect of their lives they were to consider the words of God so that no part of their lives would be seen as separated from Him. That this command was not restricted to the Israelites of Moses' day is made evident in Paul's admonition to

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

Meditation involves a variety of activities, some of which are: Praise, prayer, Scripture memory and worship. We may feel out of place praising God or worshipping Him as we go about our daily tasks but keep in mind the response of Paul and Silas to being unjustly imprisoned, beaten and uncomfortable as they sat on the floor with their feet fastened to stocks:

The multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore their clothes from them, and commanded them to be beaten with rods. When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Acts 16:22-25

Even in prison, in pain and surrounded by criminals of every sort Paul and Silas were unashamedly praising God rather than encouraging each other in feeling sorry for themselves. They were more concerned with God than they were with their circumstance and could therefore praise Him in spite of their circumstance. Similarly the Psalmist, when confronted by the Godlessness of his society could meditate on the magnificent things that God had done in history for Israel and remain assured that all would be well. Regardless of what happened he could rest in the knowledge that God is in control.

Prayer as well is something that we can do throughout our day rather than at set times within the day. We are told in the Bible to pray without ceasing. A song popular in the 1980s was entitled Make My Life a Prayer to You interpreted the idea of unceasing prayer as the making of our lives a constant prayer to God. Prayer is not merely asking God for what we want or need. Prayer is communication with God where we lay ourselves open to His will and lay before Him the deepest needs of our hearts (be they the need to praise Him or the need for food). Many people have experienced great fellowship with God simply by praying the portion of the Bible that they have been studying. For example: If you are reading about Paul and Silas as quoted in the above passage you might pray that God would enable you to endure hardship and suffering in the same manner. Or you might pray that you would be able to worship God in every circumstance of your life. The idea is that prayer is not isolated from our lives (and everything we do with our lives) but is a fundamental component of our lives.

Scripture memory is perhaps the primary aspect of meditation as it relates to Bible study. Of Scripture memory John Ortberg writes that

Memorizing Scripture is an important part of keeping a mind focused on Christ....The point of memorizing Scripture is not to see how many verses you can memorize. The point is what happens to your mind in the process of rehearsing Scripture. When you are rehearsing statements from Scripture, you are having different thoughts than you would be if you were watching some television show .... Too often we avoid Scripture memory, thinking that it is too hard, that we are too old to being to memorize Scripture, or that with all the resources around today we do not need to memorize the word of God. The verse quoted above from Deuteronomy does not exempt the aged from contemplation of the word of God, nor does it suggest that having a book handy is sufficient to obey the command. The entire emphasis of this that the followers of God are to be intimately involved with Him and His word. Our knowledge of God and His word is to surpass our knowledge of anything else for there is a life to be lived and we dare not find ourselves unprepared.