To meditate on God’s Word is to be like a cow chewing it’s cud. As it lays in the field and as it stands or walks about it chews its cud. The cow savors the grass in its mouth before filling its stomach. Then it sits down in the meadow and quietly regurgitates it, re-working it in its mouth before swallowing it. It sounds gross, but the process transforms grass into rich, creamy milk!
In the same way the Word of God is meant to become pure, sweet milk for us (1 Peter 2:2). When we meditate on God’s Word we take it from our mind down into our heart for prayer. Then as Martin Luther taught, Scripture becomes as A Pocket Lighter to Ignite your Heart.
Where to Meditate on God’s Word
Don’t think that Scripture meditation is reserved for your “Quiet Time.” Of course, it’s good to have a set daily devotion time in God’s Word, but if you limit yourself to that you’ll have a meager life in Christ. True meditation goes far beyond sitting down to read the Bible.
Isaac “went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw…” (Genesis 24:63). To meditate is to see things from God’s perspective and it happens out in the fields of life. That’s where cows chew their cuds. That’s where God provides for us — in Isaac’s case meditating with God in the field enabled him to receive the wonderful wife God had for him!
What a blessing it is to savor God’s Word while we’re preparing food in the kitchen, waiting in line at the bank, or doing our daily work. Throughout the day we can ruminate on Scripture, talk it about it with people, and let it form our prayers. We can even meditate on God’s Word as we sleep! Or as we’re laying in bed not sleeping. The Psalmist rejoices to lay awake and to drift in and out of sleep: “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Psalm 63:6).
The two best ways that I know of to train yourself to go deeper into Scripture meditation are spending time in solitude to work on the Electric Passages for Scripture Memorization and participating Group Lectio Divina.
To Meditate on God’s Word Ask Questions
Years ago when I was in Ray Ortlund Sr.’s discipleship group he shared with me a method to meditate on God’s Word that is very helpful. It’s based on Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ as it’s recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 9:1-31, 22:6-15, and 26:12-18). Saul (he hadn’t yet been renamed Paul) was a zealous Pharisee who was walking on the road to Damascus to persecute and kill more Christians when suddenly Jesus appeared to Him in a flashing, blinding light that knocked him off his feet!
As Saul laid wincing and trembling on the ground the Lord spoke to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Saul stammered, “Who are you Lord?”
Jesus revealed himself as the Son of God who died and rose again and was alive in the Christians that Saul was imprisoning and killing! Jesus also revealed to Saul that he would become the Apostle Paul, a servant and a witness for Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).
Then Saul asked, “What shall I do Lord?” and the Lord told him to get up and go visit Ananias in Damascus.
Ray taught me to interact with the Lord in Scripture by asking Saul’s same two questions of “Who are you Lord?” and “What shall I do?” I added a third a third question of “Who am I?” which is implied in the Acts accounts of Paul’s transforming encounter.
A Golden Triangle
Paul’s three questions for God serve as a helpful “Meditation Triangle” to use in our Bible reading and ruminations:
- “Who are you Lord?”
- “Who am I?”
- “What shall I do?”
These questions are the most important questions that we can ask when we meditate on God’s Word. As we study the Bible we look upward to God, inward to ourselves, and outward to other people. These three movements represent the disciplines of theology, psychology, and missions — the “Worship-Grow-Serve Triangle of Life Purpose” that God has for all of our lives.
Worship the Lord
Like Psalm 8, it’s best if everything about us and all that we say and do, begins and ends with praising, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1, 9).
To worship the Lord is to know and love him as the wonderful God he is: Father, Son, and Spirit. Eternally three-in-One and One-in-Three. Holy, holy, holy. Good and beautiful. God is love.
Worship is not singing songs in church — it’s delighting in God in all that we do. To worship the Lord is to serve him with our heart.
If we’re not worshiping the Lord as we read the Bible then we’re not reading it rightly.
Grow to be More Like Christ
Paul exclaimed, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be in Christ is not just a principle of justification, being accepted before God despite our sins because of Christ. To be in Christ is to respond to his loving initiative to be in an intimate partnership with him in the Kingdom of God.
Growing in our intimacy with Jesus is the only way to become more like him. This is not something we do in isolation from other people — we must live in authentic community with others in the body of Christ to grow closer to be with Jesus and become more like him.
To be like Jesus is to learn more and more, by his grace, to become the kind of person who loves God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loves our neighbor (whoever is near us at the moment) as ourself.
Minister to Others
You know what kind of person you are by your fruit. We want our lives to be marked by a growing expression of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that comes out of you naturally in the course of your daily life. This is the fruit of the Spirit, the expression of God’s character (Galatians 5:22-23). When we minister to others we are blessing them with the fruit of the Spirit.
Ministry is not something we do to people — it’s who we are with people, especially the people in our circle of influence. We are to be Christ to them, loving them not by trying, but by letting his Spirit be as living waters that flow out from our bellies to all who are thirsty (John 4:14, 7:38-39).
Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you then you will bear much fruit” (John 15:7-8, paraphrase).
Worship the Lord. Grow to be like Jesus. Minister to others. It’s a Golden Triangle (a Trinitarian expression) of one purpose with three expressions. We can’t do one without the other.
We can’t do any of this without meditating on Scripture.
Taste and See
When we meditate on God’s Word we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Our mind is renewed and our whole person is transformed even as we read and pray Scripture from our heart (Romans 12:1-2). We’re drawn into loving God, growing to trust in his love, and sharing his love with others.