8 Useful Tips for Meditating Biblically (Part 3 of 3)

Before we get started with some really simple, practical tips to encourage your biblical meditation practices, let’s recap what we have covered so far.

Part 1, available here, offered a real general overview of what we mean by the term biblical meditation: it’s not quite prayer and it’s not quite bible study: its a bridge between the two.

Last week, Part 2, available here, provided one example of what a full biblical meditation practice might look like. It was broken out into 6 easy-to-follow steps and was an adaptation of a much more complex method which has been around since the 6th century!

This week I am going to share tips I have found beneficial in my own prayer life and in studying/meditating scripture. Remember, I’m a working mama of three kiddos, ages 8-14, and a doctoral student so please know I wouldn’t suggest anything that I didn’t find viable enough to work into my own hectic schedule!

In no particular order, here’s my list!

Tip 1

Make an appointment with yourself to meditate at some set interval that seems manageable in your current season of life. This might be weekly? Maybe more? Maybe less? If you really feel too strapped & overwhelmed, try going to the Lord in prayer and asking where you might find some margin in your life to incorporate regular meditation practices. He’ll create the space for you!

Tip 2

Build meditation into what you are already doing. For example, if you read a devotion each morning or evening anyway, try blocking off a good hour on your calendar at whatever interval you chose for tip 1 (weekly, biweekly, etc.). In doing this, you are merely periodically extending the time you were already spending in His presence to begin with!

Tip 3

Whether or not you have regular time with God already part of your routine, you can certainly try pairing meditation was an activity you already enjoy. Like to walk? Enjoy audio versions of scripture while you get in that workout or enjoy nature. Love sipping on a hot cup of coffee? Incorporate your meditation into the time you spend with your favorite mug in your favorite spot of the house. You get the idea! Find an activity you enjoy and that you do often (or would like to do frequently) and do in conjunction with meditation. The only rule is that the activity should not distract from your time with the Lord!

Tip 4

Find a brother or sister in Christ who can hold you accountable. They do not need to meditate at the same time as you. They just need to know what your intent is so they can help encourage you and follow up. Best case scenario: your accountability partner will also be interested in this practice and you can hold one another accountable!

Tip 5

Choose a bible translation that you can easily understand, but be mindful that not all translations are created equally. Some versions are truer to the actual inspired Word of God than others. Personally, I alternate between the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV). Both are in plain language and are widely used in bible-teaching churches. Alternatively, if some verses still stump you or you are new to reading the Bible, The Message by Eugene Peterson might be a great option for you: it reads just like a story!

Tip 6

Download a bible app such a You Version or access one such as Bible Gateway in your web browser. This will allow you to effortlessly switch between translations when needed for extra insight. No need to keep multiple translations around the house unless you want to!

Tip 7

Since it can still be helpful having a hard copy of the Bible around, consider one with room in the margins to write and/or one with footnotes. The Life Application Bible (available in different translations) has some very helpful footnotes which can help you glean more from the text. The best way to pick one out, in my opinion, is to devote some time flipping through the pages of different versions at your local bookstore. Are you comfortable with the font size? Weight? Do the extra content offerings hold any utility for you? Do you prefer having some pictures and photos? Having a Bible in a version and translation that you are comfortable reading will surely enhance your meditation practice.

Tip 8

After you meditate several times, you may find yourself particularly gravitating to a specific part of the practice. Push into that inclination and spend some time there. This will make the practice that much more enjoyable as you establish a habit since you are spending time doing an activity you naturally enjoy!


There you have it! Eight ideas which can be acted on as soon as today! I’m sure you may have some thoughts of your own how to better incorporate biblical meditation into your everyday lives.

Now, although these tips were created with biblical meditation in mind, feel free to generalize them to any activity at all which will bring you into the Lord’s presence more regularly. Desire more prayer time? Want time for listening to devotions…or a podcast…hint hint ;)? Yearn for more time in scripture? Any of the above tips can be applied to each of these scenarios as well!

I firmly believe that each person is EXACTLY where they are meant to be in their walk with the Lord. Wherever that is for you, try using these suggestions to get one step closer…with the help of the Holy Spirit of course!

Pray:

Farther God, thank you for allowing me to live in such a time when your Word is so incredibly accessible! I know I have no excuse for not spending time with you each week or, better yet, each day. Your Word is there…on bookshelves…in apps…on the internet! I can waste so much time doing things that don’t really matter of such little consequence. Stir a hunger and thirst in my heart so that I seek to replace those times of empty solace with you and you alone. You are so worthy of my praise and adoration! Thank you for not giving up on me and still pursuing me. I am humbled, grateful, and truly yearn to spend time more wisely in your presence.

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,

Amen

How to Meditate Biblically in 6 Simple Steps (Part 2 of 3)

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Last week, a general overview of biblical meditation was provided. This week, we are going to go a little deeper and explore a simplified version of a specific method of meditation. Next week I’ll provide some practical tips on how you can make margin for everything you’ve learned over the last two weeks.

The method I’m sharing with you actually sounds more complex than it is, but only because the name is in Latin. It essentially means “Divine Reading”, and it has been around since the 6th century!

There are 6 basic parts to this version of the Lectio Divina: Silence, Read, Meditate, Prayer, Contemplation and Live it Out. There….not so scary, right?!

I really appreciate how the C.S. Lewis Institute‘s modified form of Lectio Divina can help us absorb the important teachings of a particular text. Here are the core components as the C.S. Lewis Institute describes them:

Step 1: Silence

Take time to be silent: prepare to communicate with God as He expresses Himself to you in the passage of Scripture you have chosen. After a period of quiet, ask God’s help as you enter this session of meditative prayer.

Step 2: Read

Read a short passage of Scripture aloud several times slowly. Allow its words and meanings to sink into your soul.

Step 3: Meditate

Meditation is like chewing. It is slow and thorough. (We learned this last week.) Write notes about what you see in this passage. Make connections between the various sections. Ask yourself, “What do these words from God say?” “What do they mean?” Place who you are and what you do next to this passage and ask God to examine you. Continue to write your findings.

Step 4: Prayer

Pray using the passage as an outline for your prayer. Read the passage phrase-by-phrase, responding to God after each phrase or verse.

Step 5: Contemplation

Wait in stillness once more. Ask that God bring to your mind any areas of your life that you need to shape more closely to His design as revealed in this passage. Contemplate God’s love and power as it is revealed here.

Step 6: Live It Out

What precisely ought you to be believing, thinking, and doing as a result of this passage? Make notes about how you hope to bring these words from Jesus into your current practice.


While it may be unrealistic to incorporate all six steps each time you sit down to read Scripture, call to mind Timothy Keller’s description of meditation from last week as being “not quite bible study and not quite prayer, but a bridge between the two. Therefore, there is a place for meditation just as much as there is a place for reading and prayer. That said, the first will greatly enrich the second and third actions when you have time to do so.

Also, since meditation methods aren’t necessarily “prescribed” in the bible, you should feel free to go wherever you feel led to while practicing this or any other method. I know you may be tempted to “get it right”, but I promise that the Lord does not want time with Him to cause undue stress. If the Spirit is leading, and you are following, you can never be wrong!

As I mentioned, next week I will offer some tips on how to incorporate this Divine Reading, or any other biblical meditation, into already full schedules. It is totally possible! The tips aren’t some set of bullets I found on the internet, but are actual real pieces of advice from my own journey and experience. In the meantime, attempt to complete these 6 steps, or as many as you can, at least once between now and when you read next week’s post. See how you do! I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Pray:

Father God, I know I can and should spend more time in your presence. Help me find one hour this week that I can dedicate only to you. I want to use this time to get deeper into your Word, more so than I usually do. This is especially important as the hustle and bustle of holidays draws nearer. I can get so easily distracted at this time of year. The last thing I want to to be too busy for you. You’re the reason we have this busy time of year to begin with! Just one hour. That’s all I ask today. Help me find it in my schedule or clear something unexpectedly from my plans so I may use that hour just for you. Thank you!

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,

Amen.

12 Verses to Give Thanks & How to Meditate on Them Biblically (Part 1 of 3)

In light of tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I thought I would share some Bible verses you can meditate on that highlight giving thanks to our God. However, before I do, I want to explain what it means to meditate biblically. 

Instead of reinventing the wheel here, I’m going to draw on what some of my favorite pastors and theologians have to say on the subject of biblical meditation. The latter is a bit different than what is traditionally considered to be Eastern meditation, or what you might do during a yoga practice.

I personally love turning to Timothy Keller on matters of Christian beliefs and practices.  He is a pastor in New York and has authored several of the books most dear to my heart.  Keller defines Christian meditation as:

‘Not quite Bible Study and not quite prayer, but a bridge between the two’…If prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture…Meditation then, is a kind of super listening in, a close reading (after the first one) that sits with the text long enough to have not just penetrating insights but a shift in our inner being, in our hearts.  

When meditating biblically, it is asking yourself, ‘How would I be different if I took this theological truth seriously? How would it change my attitudes and actions if I really believed this from the bottom of my heart?’

Timothy Keller

While prescribed meditation techniques exist, if you are incorporating the above aspects into your reading of Scripture, you are very much meditating.  

Before wrapping up this general overview of biblical meditation, here is a beautiful illustration from a seventeenth-century church leader, Thomas Brooks:

Remember that it is not hasty reading but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time on the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most but he that meditates most that will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.

Thomas Brooks

Now, keeping the above in mind, find a quiet place and set aside enough time to meditate on at least 2 or 3 verses that really speak to you from the 12 verses below.  Since any time spent in God’s word is worthwhile, you’re invited to meditate on any other verses you feel led to as well. 

1

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:15

2

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

3

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

4

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

5

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

6

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1

7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28:7

8

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:30

9

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:1-3

10

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 100:4

11

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1 & 1 Chronicles 16:34

12

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Psalm 150:6

To be sure, Scriptures are filled to the brim with verses on giving thanks and adoring our God.  The Psalms are especially good for reading up on praising the Lord.  If you have a long weekend for Thanksgiving, try spending some time in them as well, as you meditate.  If you open up to anywhere even remotely near the middle of your Bible you will open up to Psalms every time!

Next week we will do a deeper dive into biblical meditation. I will be sharing a simplified version of a millennium’s-old method you may wish to incorporate into your prayer life.

As always, thank you for choosing to spend your time here!  From my family to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and happy meditating! 

How Can Scripture Relate to Us Right Now? Part 2

Photo courtesy of Jacqui Cole

Last week we discovered that God fills what He creates. If you didn’t get a chance to read that yet, go ahead and do that now.

Now that you’ve read part 1, let’s take this notion one step further.  On the last day of creating, God made humans. What can that mean for us? 

Well, although people filled what was created on day 3, if the same logic is applied then we can see that God intends to fill us, too! After all, He fills what He creates! 

I don’t know about you, but it baffles my mind how the creator of the entire macro-level cosmos also has a divine plan to fill the micro-level individual! What lesson has greater bearing on our lives today than knowing that God desires to fill us?! To make us whole!?  

It doesn’t matter how deflated we feel or how far from grace we think we’ve fallen. Neither a void too vast nor a transgression too unforgiveable exists beyond the healing hands of our God. He can work through any person or situation! Remember, He was the one who called an entire universe into existence simply by saying it should be so.

Of course, it will take the entire rest of the Old Testament, and through the gospels and beyond in the New Testament, to find out exactly how God’s plan to fill and restore us to Himself is realized, but isn’t that amazing?!  His plan for us was conceived with the rest of creation! If there is any area in your life which needs to be forgiven or restored, go to Him. He created you to fill you. Let God be God. He’s pretty good at it!

There are so many more lessons in the Creation Account, but to start with the idea of creating and filling is pretty basic, isn’t it? As elementary as it is,  perhaps this traditionally common Bible story has now taken on new significance for you?  The more time you invest in the Word, in a translation you are comfortable with, the easier it will be to connect high-level dots and minor details all the same.  You will begin to see old stories anew. Chapters which were once possibly too overwhelming to make sense of will become like old friends when you visit the verses contained within them again and again.

The next part of Genesis goes into the story of Adam and Eve. Go ahead and read it in Chapter 2, but before you do ask that the Holy Spirit reveal something that you never noticed before.  Once you notice, pray again that the Spirit may reveal how that recognition may hold some relevance in your life, right now. You may be surprised with what else you can glean from Scriptures once you call upon the Spirit and ask for help as you read.

Pray:

Father God,

Thank you for meeting each one of us exactly where we are at in our walk with you. I’m so grateful that you also provide a helper in the Holy Spirit so that your people can understand the truths contained in your Word. Help me to remember to call on the Spirit for clarity next time I open the Bible. Let what I learn take root in my heart and affect my actions so that others may be drawn closer to you as well.

In Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name,

Amen


How Can Scripture Relate to Us Right Now? Part 1

Photo courtesy of Jacqui Cole

I’m wondering if either of these thoughts have ever crossed your mind?

  • How can the Bible have any bearing on my life right now?
  • Parts of the Bible seem so hard to understand!

Me, too! I’ve thoughts like those before.

If you’re new to exploring your faith, I adamantly believe that you are precisely where you are meant to be in your spiritual walk with God! I also firmly maintain that the best place to get to know Him better is in His Word as revealed to us in the Bible, so you are in a great position to take your next step in cultivating a relationship with Him!

On the other hand, even if you’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover and are more seasoned in your faith, you’re also in the right spot! You know that intricately complex movie that you watch again and again, yet notice something new every time?  The Bible is the same way.  

The Holy Spirit speaks to us through its pages. We can read the same verse hundreds of times and glean something new each and every time.  Read a commentary by a great theologian or two? Even more is revealed.  Read in an entirely different season of life? Verses previously skimmed over can morph into wisdom-rich lifelines. 

For me, the Creation Account in Genesis is like this. It’s one of those stories that many are familiar with: believer, agnostic, or otherwise.  Its multi-faceted layers appear to hint at no end in sight.  Just for reference, here’s a summary of my exposure to Genesis over the years:

  • An illustrated children’s bible showing Adam and Eve covered in leaves
  • Memorizing the days of creation for a religion test every year in grade school, only to forget by the time I had to memorize the 10 Commandments
  • As part of a Literature class on great books, along with the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, and The Odyssey as an English Major
  • As a Philosophy and World Religion Major delving into Judeo-Christian traditions
  • As a new believer, every time I started a Bible-in-a-Year plan, with the sincerest of intentions to “finish this time”
  • As I read references to it in books related to God’s design for marriage while I was struggling in my own
  • As I read references to it in books related to the need to create a margin for sabbath as I wrestled with burnout

You get the idea.  Lots of surface-to-moderate level exposure throughout different seasons of life. Nonetheless, this past year, it was as though I read Genesis for the VERY FIRST TIME!  Here’s what I learned: Order in terms of what was created when may not seem like a huge deal, but it really is extraordinarily important! As it turns out, among other reasons, God’s character, forethought, and intentions are revealed in the established order of Creation. 

The lesson in a nutshell? What God Creates, He Fills. I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I appreciate easily absorbable information which can be recalled with little-to-no effort. For information to be useful to me it needs to be able to come out of my brain as easily as it can take up residence in my brain. It’s even better when this info is based in the grounding truths of God! What God Creates, He Fills is a neat and tidy message I can get behind!

Now, let’s see what I mean. Grab your Bible or click here to read the Creation Account in Genesis 1. 

Notice that what God created during the first three days of creation, He proceeded to fill, in the same order, over the next three days.  So, what He created on days 1, 2 and 3, He filled on days 4, 5 and 6, respectively. For example, God made light and dark on day 1, and He filled those empty spaces with the sun, moons and stars on day 4.

Here’s a graphic for all the visual learners out there!

Image from: http://Image from: https://spreadingthefame.com/2020/01/16/order-of-creation/

What He creates, He fills!  Isn’t that amazing?!  Go ahead, and read the creation account again, but this time specifically focus on the create/fill correlations.

Next week we will delve into this teaching a bit more and find out what truth it can hold for us!

Pray:

Father God, thank you for revealing yourself in Scriptures. Trends, culture, and relationships shift over time. It can can be challenging to know fact from fiction, especially when the fiction is delivered by people with good intentions using seemingly harmless words. But, with the help of your Spirit, I am learning that the only real truth is what you chose to reveal in Scriptures. What a gift! By turning to your Word, I can how I ought to act in any situation. Do you know what else is incredible? That while your Word reveals new insights time and time again, it also remains absolutely unchanging. I know it is always true no matter when I turn to it for guidance or comfort. Thank you! Continue to open my eyes and soften my heart as I seek out the wisdom contained in your Word.

In Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name,

Amen