Meditation—new age or new you?

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We aspire to be like the person in Psalm 1, who delights in God’s Word and meditates on it day and night. But the concept of meditation often conjures up images of sitting in the lotus position and chanting unintelligible words in a monotonous drone. We don’t fully grasp what meditation is or how it produces the benefits described in Psalm 1.

In many world religions meditation involves emptying your mind for the purpose of relaxation, detoxifying your body and soul, and relieving stress. In contrast, the biblical concept of meditation is to fill your mind with God’s thoughts—to think deeply, to contemplate, to mull over and chew on God’s truth.

The biblical term goes beyond thinking. In Hebrew the term means “to murmur, mutter, sigh, speak, whisper.” This involves making sounds with your mouth, speaking words quietly to yourself. Our biblical instruction goes beyond just thinking about God’s Word, and extends to actually saying the words out loud.

Now can you see how memorizing Scripture makes meditation possible?

A universal teaching technique combines seeing, hearing, and speaking to augment the learning process. Meditation involves all three. As we see and say and hear the words over and over, we give ourselves something specific to meditate on.

For example, you might choose to meditate on the love of God. But where do your thoughts begin and where do they go? Within a few seconds you’re off in La-La-Land because your great intentions morphed into your list of things-to-do. Distraction comes easily without something specific to focus on.

Recalling a Scripture helps you zoom in on a target: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) Now you have substance rather than a generic thought.

So what is the benefit of meditation? How does God use it?

Through meditation God opens our eyes to understand. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he gives three images: an active-duty soldier, a competing athlete, and a hardworking farmer (2 Tim 2:3-7). Then Paul tells Timothy, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

Paul tells Timothy to consider these images. What is God saying? Why did God use that analogy? How does that relate to me?

When we take the teachings of God’s Word and meditate on them, the Holy Spirit gives understanding into the text, which then alters our thinking, our behavior, our very lives. As we ponder the words, illustrations and implications for our life, insight comes to us from God Himself. How fantastic is that!

How has memorizing Scripture helped you to meditate on God’s Word? And how have you benefitted?

5 comments to Meditation—new age or new you?

  • mickey


    What a great post, you have a way of explaining so clearly what memorizing God’s word is all about and why it is so important for us as followers of Jesus Christ to meditate on the Bible. I heard an interview on the radio the other day and the host asked the guest this question, Is it sinning if we don’t memorize the Bible? And he answered we memorize so we don’t sin. That answer reminded me of Romans 13:14″Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,and make no provision for the flesh to gratify it’s desires”. When I memorize scripture I am putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is increasing in me and I am decreasing as he transforms my mind to desire him more than I want my sin. God is so great to have given us his word, all we have to do spend time it.

    • Hi Mickey, I love the reminder to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh…” This is why memorizing is so vital. Thank you for your wise words.

  • Susan Turner

    Love your post, Janet, and Micky’s comment. I tend to equate memorizing with meditating. However, I guess it is possible to memorize mindlessly. That is the last thing I want to do – to mindlessly babble God’s Word. That would seem irreverent even and I often have to guard against it. My desire is to memorize with the intent of life change, with the intent of pondering deeply, of having it penetrate deep within my soul. Having God’s Word memorized allows me to have His Word at my disposal at all times. When I wake up, as I lie on my bed, I can begin the day with His thoughts. As I go about my day I have many moments that my mind can turn to God’s Words instead of my own. When I put my head on my pillow at night, the last thing I do is think on God’s Word. I can think deeply on His Word throughout the day and it is indeed life changing. Often I will concentrate on just one or two verses and God will open my eyes to a fresh insight from a verse that I have known for years – because I have taken the time to ponder it deeply. It is hard for me to put into words, but after memorizing scripture now for about 5 years on a consistent basis, I have noticed my thought patterns changing. I am much slower to speak and quicker to listen. I am not as quick to jump to conclusions before responding to situations. My prayer life is richer and more consistent. And I am more filled up with Jesus. His Word has penetrated my heart in a way that had never happened before I began memorizing/meditating. He is transforming me and that is a good thing.

  • Chérie

    Hey Susan:). I have noticed those same changes in myself, and have marveled at them. Also, Janet, love the post, it is all so true. As a child I was taught about meditation, and the world’s meaning compared to the Biblical meaning. I remember one sunday school teacher wanting to explain meditation Gods way and used the “graphic” illustration of how a cow chews their cud, and what cud really is, and I remember some kids got grossed out, but I understood the point the teacher made which was to keep reviewing over and over what God says. I remembered that as I grew up—knowing The Lord, yet still walking in my own strength, and making choices that were not at all glorifying to Him. I still hadn’t made the connection about memorization and how reviewing the exact words in the exact order in long passages is the key. I actually didnt realize it until I had several chapters under my belt and the Holy Spirit would bring verses to my mind at just the right time. It occured to me that I knew God better than before because I really knew His Word which is WHAT WE’VE GOT to learn about Him! Another reason for filling our mind —not emptying it— for meditation is we have an enemy that wants nothing more than to destroy us and shoot us down, and what a perfect target…. an “empty mind”…