The Key to Meditating... Does Anyone Have It?
We're taught to meditate on the Word of God. Joshua 1:8 tells us to meditate therein day and night; Psalm 119:15 tells us to meditate in God's precepts, and have respect unto His ways. Psalm 104:34 says that our meditation of Him shall be sweet.
It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Meditating on the Word and the God who spoke it, savouring its every flavour, exploring its every texture, feeling it work within us to transform and edify. I hear that word—meditate—and think about the role models in my life. The prayer warriors, the savants of Scripture, the dear sisters and brothers who spend hours every day just tasting God's Word and seeing that He is good.
It sounds wonderful. It sounds difficult. It is something that has often challenged me in my Christian walk.
Being still is the first challenge. This world has been carefully, diabolically altered to spur us into a never-ending productivity cycle that, some days, makes starting our day with the Lord seem like an inefficient, even irresponsible use of our time. Of course, when we defy that productivity cycle—when we push that pressure aside and give God the firstfruits of our time, He always proves the opposite: whatever we surrender to God returns to us multiplied. It is the best, the most responsible use of our time.
Perhaps you've mastered this art. Perhaps Satan has retreated from that aspect of your life to attack you from different angles because good golly, he is NOT getting your devotion time. I pray for your continued diligence on that front and rejoice with you for the victory. Keep it up. Never forget how much Kingdom importance that time has for you and those around you.
But there are more challenges ahead.
Once upon a time, I considered the act of sitting down with Scripture—the gesture of giving time to God—as good as a devotion. I was starting my day with the Lord. I was setting aside the pressures of the next 24 hours to do Him the favour of cracking my Bible between breakfast and my morning pilates.
Framed this way, it sounds ridiculous and not a little pretentious, but that is the way of human minds, isn't it? Why do we always feel like our acts of spiritual discipline are gifts to God, rather than dispensations of grace from Him? Every spiritual virtue we think we have is given to us by God for a purpose. That sacrifice of time is God-assisted, and it's not supposed to end there—He has helped you to make that sacrifice to bring you to the next step. The meditating step.
I've grappled with this for a long time. I've tried all manner of Bible-reading regimens—read-it-in-a-year, devotionals, writing nothing down and just reading, writing so much down that reading is a tiny blip in the process, reading from one book at a time, reading from five books at a time—and the door to meditation has always remained closed. While I watched those around me hmmm and ooooh and aaaah over things they found in Scriptures, I read and read and read and struggled to grasp why I wasn't having so many revelations.
I wish I could tell you that I found the key. Tied with a ribbon, made of pure gold, unlocking all the mysteries of meditating on the Scriptures, but I don't think it's that simple. See, it took me a long time to surpass the first step—acknowledging that something wasn't working. That I'm learning and memorizing and downloading information, but not absorbing the Word in the way that I should. Step two was seeking counsel from the wise believers in my life, but even that seemed to frustrate me more than anything.
My fatal flaw, I think, was in the order of my steps. I should have come to God with it first.
Lately, that has been a prayer of mine. Lord, teach me to go deeper. Teach me how to love prayer. Teach me how to dig into your word. And though I still struggle, though I still feel inferior, though my devotional regimen is nothing compared with those of the role models in my life, I'm beginning to see a difference. I'm trying to change the way I see the Word. Yes, I want to know it forward and backward; yes, I want the knowledge. But that will come. As I spend time in the Word, meditating, I will learn by default. The sheer quantity of information consumed should not be my metric for a successful devotional session.
I don't want to be hung up on a certain number of chapters to read, or a certain routine I must, must, must follow. I don't want to let the details bog me down. Every day in the reading I'm working through, I look for one thing that stands out to me. One thing I can pull from the page, write down, think about, question, ponder, or just appreciate. It can be one sentence. It can be one word. Writing down some thoughts helps me to sort through them, but maybe that's not necessary for you—maybe you can mull that idea over in your mind just as effectively, and that is a beautiful thing.
Maybe you need to tag-team meditation at this point in your life. Maybe talking things through with someone else, swapping thoughts, asking questions, bouncing ideas off each other, is your way of meditating on the Word. And that counts! Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't. You are digging deeper, fixing your thoughts on heavenly things. Meditation does not happen only at six a.m., completely alone, for hours on end. Find what helps you to think about the Word, whether it's a small group, a phone call with a friend, or that coffee and peanut-butter toast with your Bible, alone at six a.m.
Step one is to give your struggle and desire to God. Let him know that you want to meditate on His Word. If that's not exactly true yet, let Him know that you want to want to meditate on His Word, but you need His help to get there.
Everything—everything—on this spiritual journey is just that. A journey. A process. A work in progress. If carving out time for God is an accomplishment in itself, that's wonderful. Don't let that slide, but don't stay there either: every step of this road is designed to take us one step further, closer to God, so give Him all you have, ask Him to help you with the rest, and don't wait for the magical key to show up on your doorstep. Search for it. Dig for it. Practice meditation even when you feel like you have no idea what you're doing. Set yourself up for success. Try new methods for reading Scripture. Look for the answers or assistance God may be placing in your path. And don't get discouraged; just keep moving forward.
Our meditation of Him shall be sweet. And as we grow in this beautiful skill, it will only get sweeter.