(A series on Biblical meditation from our friends at Reformation Heritage Books)
Thomas Watson wrote, “A Christian enters into meditation as a man enters into the hospital, that he may be healed. Meditation heals the soul of its deadness and earthliness.” Biblical meditation on Scripture acts as a believer’s medicine because God’s Spirit always uses the balm of His truth to provide lasting comfort and help.
“It has become thoughtless, superficial, and self absorbed.” That was my answer to the question, What has gone wrong with modern Christianity? When this question has come up in subsequent conversations, no one has ever disagreed with my charge that modern Christianity has devolved to a superficial religion. Believers usually disagree when they discuss the antidote for this shallow spirituality. There are really only two answers to the basic problem of weak, meaningless religion. A believer could adapt and concede to the reality of anemic Christianity; many Christians follow this approach. They construct their churches to be user friendly in their worship, shallow in their preaching, and casual in their view of Christian commitment. They believe that Christianity’s problem has been organizing churches that are too focused on Christian duties rather than creating a “relaxed” atmosphere. Jeremiah 6:16 outlines the second approach to deal with superficial Christianity: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
This latter approach advocates for the church’s return to true biblical spirituality—a serious focus on putting God’s Word to practice in one’s own experience. We must wholeheartedly integrate doctrine with living. This necessary wedding of doctrine and practice destroys superficial Christianity, but it only comes through a careful and serious consideration of God’s Word. This brings us to the topic of this study—the practice of biblical meditation, or, the doctrine of Christian thinking. This is God’s battle plan for the believer’s mind.
Do you remember the first sermon that truly gripped your heart? I first experienced this joy when I was a sixteenyearold new believer. An elderly gentleman came as a guest speaker to my church. His text was Psalm 1 on the marks of a godly, blessed person. In that sermon, the Lord drove home this primary point: a healthy, growing relationship to the Word of God is central to a person’s blessed condition. A godly person does not just snack occasionally on God’s truth; rather, the Word is his heart’s delight and hourly consideration. Psalm 1 beautifully demonstrates the practice of biblical meditation. What does it mean to meditate? It means to think personally, practically, seriously, and earnestly on how the truth of God’s Word should look in life. Edmund Calamy described it as “dwelling upon the mercies we receive, the chewing upon the promises.” When he meditates, the believer fills his mind with truth so that his life becomes governed by the attitude of the Savior.
Unfortunately, over the last century believers have lost a regular focus on Christian meditation. The Reformers and Puritans regularly wrote, taught, and exhorted God’s people to a life of meditation. Now, this emphasis has largely diminished. Christians rarely write major works on this subject in modern times. Sadly, in recent years many associate meditation with false religion of the Far East. They view meditation as a process of emptying the mind rather than, as Scripture commands, filling the mind with divinely revealed truth. Noting the ongoing battle for the minds and hearts of the current generation, this is especially alarming. Without a return to the delightful duty of biblical meditation, the believer will continue to handle God’s Word merely intellectually. He will fail to digest the Scriptures to make them his daily walk and practice.
The goal of this book is to convince God’s people of the absolute necessity of personal meditation. This book will motivate the believer to begin this work; teach practically how to meditate on divine truth; and guide in right patterns of thinking throughout the day. Two sources will aid us: biblical teaching and the rich spiritual experience of Puritans who were committed to practicing spiritual meditation. Thus, I desire to encourage God’s people to see the necessity of this extremely practical subject and to enjoy true meditation on God’s Word.
Meditation Heals a Believer’s Heart and Settles His Mind
Why have the past few generations of believers not focused on biblical meditation? Although we could answer this question in different ways, the primary reason is…