The Bible has quite a bit to say regarding meditation. It recommends on what a believer should meditate and the benefits of meditation. However, it does not recommend meditation for meditation’s sake, which is a popular activity nowadays. For example, there are many popular books marketed to Christians that promote chanting meditation exercises and yoga. These approaches to meditation advocate certain positions and repetitive phrases and an emptying of the mind. These are not Christian and cannot be made to be Christian by using Christian phraseology, such as repeating a favored name for Jesus. On the contrary, scripture points the believer to meditating on God’s word, laws, and precepts.
What does it mean to meditate? More importantly, what does the author mean when he uses the word we translate as meditate? Let’s look at the first mention of someone meditating in God’s word, Genesis 24:63.
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.
Here the word means “muse pensively.” Based on the context, I’d bet that Isaac was thinking about his mother Sarah, since she had just died. He was also awaiting the return of his father’s servant with a wife for him. He had a lot on his mind.
Joshua meditated on the Book of the Law (Joshua 1:8) and here it means “to murmur; to ponder.” Perhaps he was reading it aloud and thinking about it. Either way, to meditate Christianly hardly means an emptying of the mind or being silent.
The Psalms have the most occurrences of “meditate(s) and meditation.” Here are a few:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
“… I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” Psalm 63:6
“My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Psalm 119:148
Meditation occupies the mind with God Himself and His word and it is verbal.
Barbara Hughes says, “Muttering God’s word back to Him in prayer involves committing it to memory or praying with an open Bible. So, along with systematic reading of the Bible, we ought to select meaningful segments to reverently verbalize” (pg. 42).
The great part about this is that it can be done anywhere. When trying to memorize a passage or verse, I like to write it on a card and carry it around to rehearse it several times a day. Once a passage or a verse is committed to memory, it is with you everywhere you go. “Murmur it. Memorize it. Pray it. Say it. Share it” (Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, pg. 43).