The New Year often brings resolutions to lose weight, exercise, eat healthier, save more money, spend more time with family and friends and for devoted Christians, draw closer to God through prayer and fasting. The spiritual disciplines of the Christian life include prayer, fasting, bible study, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, journaling, learning, and meditation.
The Example of Jesus
Donald Whitney, in his book “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”, refers to meditation as silence and solitude. Jesus’ own example teaches the importance of drawing away from people to be alone in prayer and thoughtful reflection with God the Father. In Matthew 4:1, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Immediately after Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist saw the heavens open and the Spirit of God descend like a dove onto the Christ and hearda voice from heaven say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased”. This is when Jesus was led into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray. He was beginning His earthly ministry to heal the sick and save the lost and knew the value of being alone with the Father. Jesus returned to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).
In Matthew 14:23, after teaching the multitudes and feeding the 5,000, Jesus dismissed the crowds and sent the disciples ahead of him in the boat while he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Mark 1:35 tells us that Jesus arose “very early in the morning, while it was still dark…left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” And in Luke 4:42, “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.”
Meditation: Focus Your Mind on Christ
If we want to be like Jesus, we must discipline ourselves to find times of silence and solitude. Don’t let the enemy fill your head with lies that seek to justify not spending time alone with God. We are all busy, we all have responsibilities, you may have a spouse or are dating someone who isn’t that spiritual, whatever the lie may be floating through your brain. The truth is, it’s all up to you. You decide how close you want to be to the Savior. You decide how much comfort, strength, power, and truth you receive from the Father by how much you seek Him in silence and solitude.
Steps in the Meditation Process from Ken Long
- Pray. Ask for God’s help
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
- As you begin this spiritual discipline of meditation, pray for insights from God.
- Actually pray through the whole process of meditation.
- During your time of meditation you can have great confidence that our personal God is helping you since He has spoken in His Word that He wants His people meditating, and has promised great blessings.
“but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8
- Memorize. Learn your passage word for word
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
- Memorizing a passage allows you to think about the verse at any time, “day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
- Once a verse is memorized, the Spirit who dwells inside of you can bring the passage to mind anytime.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
- Study. Understand what the passage means
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
- Make sure that you know what the passage is really saying, not what you think it means or what you would like it to mean.
- Look up the biblical definition of key words and see how they are used in other places in the Scriptures.
- Fellowship. What has God been showing you in this passage
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:3-4
- God speaks to us through His Scriptures.
- We continue the conversation and the fellowship with Him by talking to Him specifically about what He has said in the passage.
- Ask Him what it is that He would like you to learn from this passage.
- What attitude and/or action does He want you to change in your life?
- Remember, anything that He asks you to do, He will certainly help you with.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
- This fellowship with God over His Word is not a brief one-time sitting which lasts a minute or two; it’s a continuous time of walking through life with Him as you think deeply with Him about what He has said.
- Commit. Commit to what God’s Spirit has directed you to do through His Word
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:22-25
- Tell Him that you will certainly do as He has directed with His help
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3
- Writing your commitments in your spiritual journal is very helpful. Dawson Trotman (founder of The Navigators ministry) said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.”
- Make your commitment specific.
A Practical, Personal Example of Meditation on Colossians 4:12
Here are some notes on how the Spirit recently used meditating on Colossians 4:12 to change my attitude and actions:
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 (NKJV)
- Pray.“Father, make me a person of prayer who labors fervently for others.”
- Memorize.I post Bible verses everywhere using sticky notes, 3×5 cards, computer screens, pictures on my smartphone, etc. I recently discovered the Replicate App (see below in resources section) that includes a section on Bible Memorization.
- Study.What does it mean to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”? I believe it is God’s will for believers to intercede for others and continually bring them before the Father in prayer.
- Fellowship.During this time with God and His Word, I realized that I did not labor fervently in prayer for those closest to me much less someone I don’t know.
- Commit.Yes, I believe in the power of prayer. The God of the universe works through the prayers of the saints and I commit to becoming a person of prayer like Epaphras.
This method is certainly not the only way to meditate, but it is one that the Spirit has used to make people new in the attitude of their mind and in their actions (Ephesians 4:22-32).
What is Your Resolve?
So, resolve to get alone with your Bible and after reading a passage, think on what you’ve read. Reflect on what heart-attitude you are seeking God to help change and record your commitments and insights in your journal. It is always a blessing to go through the record of your walk with God and see the times He answered your prayers and the times He carried you through life circumstances.
Resources for Extra Reading
The Bible Promise Book by Barbour Publishing
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus by Robert J. Morgan