Practicing Meditation

Posted by on Feb 15, 2011

I’ve said that meditating on scripture has similarities to steeping a tea bag in hot water. As the tea permeates the water, so meditation on scripture can permeate our souls, our minds, and our hearts in powerfully transformative ways. But how do we practice this important discipline?

First, we need to set aside time to practice meditation. The good news is that we don’t necessarily need a lot of time. At first, until the discipline becomes more integrated into our lives, we can simply add 5 minutes to our times of Bible study and prayer.

Second, the practice can be as simple as repeating, either out loud or silently, a verse or phrase from scripture. Assuming you already have some kind of plan for reading the Bible (the topic of some future blog?), you can select a key verse you just read and repeat the verse and prayerfully consider its ability to change you from within. (Ideally, this requires you to memorize the verse).

Some people repeat the verse, emphasizing a different word each time, reflecting on the meanings and applications of the different word. Hence, it could be represented like this:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (He’s THE one and only LORD…).

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (He’s the LORD, the One who established his unfailing, eternal covenant with Israel…).

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (He IS, currently, present tense, right now, in this moment while I’m going through….).

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (MY – a personal helper, for me, even though I’m faithless at times….).

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (SHEPHERD – a tender of sheep – animals which are stupid, rebellious, unruly, easily distracted, easily led astray, incapable of finding food on their own, scared by stirred up waters…).

I hope you get the idea.

Some people build in times of meditation, based on fixed events in their daily lives. For example, they spend the first five minutes of their daily drive in their car as a time of meditation (although this prohibits the practice with closed eyes!). Some meditate immediately after finishing breakfast, or while brushing their teeth, or as they fall asleep, etc.

Some people set a timer for only five minutes, during which they commit themselves to nothing other than meditation – no cell phone, no texting, no making to-do lists, no reading, etc. It is dedicated as a time to prayerfully mull over the meaning and implications of a verse or a phrase or even a single word.

Over time, you can expand your meditation discipline to involve more time or repeated sessions during the day. The challenge, I find, is not so much in the difficulty of the discipline but rather the commitment to set aside the time and practice it.

Considering the promises made in scripture about the benefits of mulling over and internalizing God’s word, it certainly seems worth the effort.

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