This article was hard to write because I struggle here so much. I struggle to get my mind clear and focused. I’m discovering so much about myself through this process. The tips in this article work for me but may not work for you. Use this guide as encouragement, so you can find your own groove to focus deeply and meditate effectively on scripture in your private study time.
I’m constantly amazed how the things I’ve been trying to get done or things I want to remember come to mind as I’m studying scripture. My mind wanders through all the pathways available except the one I want to travel.
A couple of days ago, I was reading in Mark chapter 2. It is such beautiful scripture. I was truly moved by this scripture then, oh yeah, I need laundry detergent!! Ahhh!! Why can’t I focus on this scripture or any other for that matter? I need God desperately and yet I find myself all over the place.
Why?? Is there something wrong with me? Is there a reason why I can’t empty my mind long enough to focus on some good things?
I want to, really, I do!
How many of you sit down to pray or study and your brain wanders? I’m convinced that it’s the method. And with a mind that’s struggling anyway (for other reasons), it’s hard to stay engaged.
I’m learning that developing a quiet time or any other habit is hard but quietening my mind to unlock God’s mysteries is almost unbearable at times. There’s just too much to do and too much to remember.
I’ve tried several focusing activities/exercises to help strengthen my ability to focus but studying the Word deeply seems to send me into a trance or into got-to-create-a-list-right-now mode.
I’m sure the enemy enjoys using this tactic against us during this season where we need God so much. We put so much pressure on ourselves. You know what I’m talking about! We want to do everything that we’ve always done plus care for our little humans. Wanna know the secret I’m learning? I can’t do it all. Not even close. Now that my kids are here, I have to clear the clutter in my mind by saying no to a lot of obligations. When I embrace that mentality and write down what’s left, it helps ease the burden on my brain. If you are overwhelmed, start here. Then the remaining steps for meditation will work smoothly after that.
Let the words of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, My strength, and my Redeemer
What is Meditation?
What comes to mind when you hear the words Biblical Mediation?
Doing yoga or some sort of posed physical meditation? No, me either.
Sitting in a candlelit room with your hands on your knees saying ‘ohm’? That can’t be it.
So many different cultures focus on meditation. Time alone, time in prayer, and time with no talking are essential for many cultures. Many religions have individuals live at the temples and do nothing but meditate. Yet, Americans can’t slow down enough to savor a piece of cheesecake let alone scripture, which is much sweeter.
It has to be something entirely different than what I’m doing now and what our culture defines it.
Mediation is an essential part of a healthy spirit. Just as we should pray, worship, and read scripture, we should also mediate. This is the secret sauce that makes the other aspects of spiritual disciplines beautiful!
The word feedeth meditation, and meditation feedeth prayer. . . . [M]editation must follow hearing and precede prayer. . . . What we take in by the word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer. (Thomas Manton)
Meditation fits nicely between reading scriptures and praying. When using meditation after your reading, it allows us to use the scripture we just read to deepen the impact on our lives.
Reading scripture is like skimming the water. You can cover a lot but you stay pretty shallow.
Meditation, however, takes a small amount of scripture and helps you dive deep to experience the verse more fully. Meditation is like having that piece of cheesecake and trying not to chew much because you want to savor the texture and taste. By savoring you end up discovering the subtle hues of different flavors or enjoying the smooth texture.
Meditation also draws out personal reflection, application, and deep worship out a single verse or two.
The beautiful thing about meditation is how it opens the door to prayer. This can be a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus and His ministry, or for the peace of God when we need it most. I’m amazed how meditation turns a verse or two into a deep expression of worship.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Ps. 119:15)
The reason we come away so cold from reading the word is, because we do not warm ourselves at the fires of meditation. (Thomas Watson)
How to Meditate.
1) Find the right verses.
If you are reading several chapters a day (or even just one chapter), you should meditate on a few key verses after your reading.
During your reading time, mark significant verses in your Bible that you read that day. These should speak to you, where you are. What is God saying to you through your reading today?
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law (Psalm 119:18)
2) Write the verses.
After you have your key verses, you can start meditating by writing the scripture. Starting here makes me slow down and focus on each word. This also helps me memorize the verse. Don’t just write, think about what you are writing. One way to do this, say three or four words at a time while you are writing. This will help you remember them long enough to write them down and keeps them from becoming stale.
3) Repeat the verses.
Then repeat the verse a few times.
Close your eyes and say the verse to yourself. If you can’t remember it all by this point, that’s ok, just paraphrase.
4) Make it personal.
Put yourself in the verse. I personally love to picture what was happening during the story or the depth of the emotion felt during that time. Another way to personalize the verse is by putting your name in the verse. “For God so loved Susan, that He gave His only Son.” Now that’s powerful. It brings the meaning from a worldwide perspective, which is true and important, down to a personal perspective.
5) Emphasize the verse.
Next, I love to emphasize the words. Emphasize each word as you read the verse over and over. This can really impact what the verse is saying to me.
6) Give Thanksgiving.
Finish this sentence, “I’m so thankful that God/Jesus _________________ for me”. Make the scripture personal.
7) Keep a record.
Use a notebook to meditate with. When you look back at the end of the year, you’ll be amazed how God moved through your mediation.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. (Ps. 143:5)
How to use Meditation in your daily quiet time.
Read – Daily intake of scripture is vital. Either find a reading plan, come up with your own, or ask below in the comments. I would love to point you in the right direction.
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. (Ps. 119:27)
Focus – Use the meditation guidelines above in the “How to Meditate” section.
The great reason why our prayers are ineffectual, is because we do not meditate before them. (William Bates)
Pray – After mediation, prayer should come easily. If you dig deep into a verse and truly apply it’s meaning to your life and heart, the door of prayer should be open for you to enter.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; Yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, And meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:11-12).
What works for you? Leave the ways you meditate below.