We, at New Hope Fellowship, value Bible reading as one of the core practices of growing as disciples of Jesus. We want to pause and think about the practice of reading God’s Word and remember one key principle that makes the practice of Bible reading transformative and fruitful: meditation. That is, for the Word of God to be remembered and to penetrate your mind and heart, you need to meditate. Don Whitney suggests that “if you have 10 minutes for the Word of God in the morning, then don’t read for 10 minutes. Read for 5 minutes and meditate for 5 minutes.” Whitney notes, “far better to read less, if necessary, and remember something than to read more and remember nothing.”
Definition first. To meditate, says Tim Keller, is to “ponder and question thoroughly” by using our mind intensely. We are to ask fundamental questions like: “am I living in light of this? What difference does it make? Am I taking this seriously? If I believed and held to this, how would that change things? If I forget this, how does that affect me and all my relationships?” We also want to ask a question that helps us to read the Bible in a gospel-centered way: “how does it contribute to the gospel message and move along the main narrative arc of the Bible, which climaxes in the salvation of Jesus Christ?” Christian meditation is not like mantra meditation that suppresses the analytical side of the mind; we are to use our mind to analyze and reflect, and we are to center our meditation on the glory and grace of God in the gospel.
Here are some time-tested methods and questions that will help us in our meditation:
- Method #1: Ask these four questions in your meditation: What does this passage teach me 1) about God and his character? 2) about my human nature, character, and behavior? 3) about Christ and his salvation? 4) about the church, or life of the people of God? Having thought through these questions, you can use a couple of key truths and insights to praise God, pray for your personal life and/or intercede for others.
- Method #2:Take one crucial verse and think through it by emphasizing each word: 1) Ask what each word uniquely contributes to the meaning of the text; 2) Ask what meaning would be lost from the statement if that particular word were removed. For example, if we are reading Mark 1:17, we will first focus on the word, “follow” in “follow me,” and reflect on what it means to follow: it’s not about just absorbing information, but really aligning our lives with Christ. Then meditation on the word, “me” in “follow me”: discipleship is not just ethical compliance, but at the heart of the following is the intimate relationship with Jesus himself, not just obeying this or that. You can think through the phrase or verse throughout the day, and let it shape your inner thoughts.
- Method #3:Fix the mind on the truth of the passage by paraphrasing the verse in your own words. 1) Read the verse(s) and close the Bible and try to restate it; 2) Then look back at the passage and what you have missed; 3) Do this until you are satisfied with your paraphrase. Putting it into your own words—your own heart language—will send it down into your inner being more easily.
- Method #4:Memorize the passage. It is not without reason that memorizing is called “learning by heart.” Start with one verse at a time. Let it go into your mind and then into your heart. Ask the Spirit to inscribe it into your heart so that the living Word will transform us more and more into the image of Christ our Lord.
I encourage you to use one of the methods of meditation in your Bible Reading this week. May we stay close to Jesus as we keep our heart and mind close to the Word of God.
*Adapted from Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.
Bible Reading Column by Pastor Charles Lee.
Mississauga Campus Lead Pastor
This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:
|Monday: Psalm 82||☐||Thursday: Psalm 85||☐|
|Tuesday: Psalm 83||☐||Friday: Psalm 86||☐|
|Wednesday: Psalm 84||☐||Saturday: Psalm 87||☐|