We’re advised in scripture to meditate on the bible. Psalm 1:2, contrasting foolish people with the wise says, “…they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” In Joshua’s famous charge to the Israelites he says, “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…” (Joshua 1:8)
But what is meditation? How does it work, exactly?
There’s many different ways in which Christians meditate on the scriptures. One of the most common ways is through focused thought. This is when you fix your thoughts on something for a period of time in a conscious, intentional way. This type of meditation requires that we be fully present with the scripture we are engaging. This is the thought behind Philippians 4:8 where it says, “…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.”
According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word we translate as ‘meditate’ means to mutter or to moan. The sense here is not of complaining, but or reading the scripture aloud with a heartfelt longing. When you’re faced with a particularly difficult situation in life you may have – or may need to search for – a bible verse that seems to speak to your situation. When you find it, you’ll know – God will confirm his promise in your spirit. Repeat the verse quietly throughout the day – a dozen times, a thousand times. This is the “mutter” part. While doing this, be conscious of God’s presence, and that you are speaking his promise (This is the “moan” part). In essence, you are praying God’s word back to him, asking him to be faithful to his word. God doesn’t hear a thousand prayers any more than he hears one prayer, but this “mutter and moan” form of meditation changes us. It keeps us focused on God and the fulfillment of his promise to us. And I believe that God rewards persistence and perseverance (Luke 18: 1-8)
One of these bible verses that I frequently mutter and moan is Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
There are Christians who make a habit of ‘muttering and moaning’ much larger portions of the scriptures. Many Christians pray through the psalms and The Paraclete Psalter is a terrific resource for doing this. Others meditate on specific passages to achieve a breakthrough in some area of their life – such as Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word or the excellent book from Wesley and Stacy Campbell, Praying the Bible.