Meditation: The Missing Link
By R. B. Ewers, first published in “The Compass”, November 1984
A Christian said to me recently, “I read my Bible each day, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference to my life.” This honest statement could be true for many Christians.
When we consider all that the Word of God claims to do in our lives we are amazed at so little benefit. Paul commended the elders “to the word of His grace which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32). Peter instructs us to desire it “that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). Timothy is reminded that all Scripture is “profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and instruction . . . that the man of God may be complete” (2 Tim. 3:15-17, RV). The Psalmist memorised the Word “that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11) and claimed it to be the key to cleansing, guidance, enlightenment and obedience.
God means what he says. His Word is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, indeed it is the sword of the Spirit.
Why then is there so little benefit from our intake of the Word, whether by hearing it, reading it, studying it or memorising it? There must be a breakdown somewhere, for the evidence is such, that on the part of many Christians, His commands are not obeyed, His promises not claimed, His warnings not heeded, His examples not followed. I believe mediation on the Word to be the missing link.
What chewing and digestion are to the food we take into our mouths, so is meditation to the Word of God we take into our minds. If the Hebrew meaning of meditate is “audible thinking,” then meditation on the Word implies thinking it over, and talking about it to God. This means contemplation, with a view to application. Andrew Murray defines meditation as “holding the Word of God in your heart until it has affected every phase of your life.” It therefore becomes a “bridge” between Word intake and obedience. When it is missing from our hearing, reading, studying or memorising the Scripture, the seed of the Word takes no root so there is no fruit.
The Psalmist would teach us that our meditation must be personal. He speaks of “my meditation”. Unfortunately, we often feed only upon someone else’s meditation. Milk is food that has passed through the digestion of another. Thus we might describe many of the devotional books we so often read and rely upon for our spiritual growth. Do we decry these? God forbid. We establish them, but only in their place and purpose. If they come before our own personal meditation, they can become a crutch, which will prevent the spiritual exercise necessary for vital living.
Personal meditation made practical
Before taking in the Word, pray as did the Psalmist, “open thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of the Law” (Psalm 119:18). Writing out a passage in your own words can be stimulating, as can be the asking of questions concerning its application for our own lives. The paramount motive behind whatever form by which we take in the Word, is the willingness to discover, “what is God saying to me personally, and what does he want me to do about it?” When God does speak from his Word, pray for him to work it into our life, resolve to work it out, and trust God to do it.
The physical enjoyment and benefit of food is but a faint illustration of the benefits found in meditation from the heart upon the Word of God.
The “young men” of 1 John 2:14, and the “righteous man” of Psalm 1, testify that their spiritual strength is a direct benefit from meditation in the Word. Spiritual prosperity is the benefit guaranteed to Joshua, “this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayst observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Spiritual satisfaction was the experience of Jeremiah, “Thy words were found and I did eat them and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). Paul speaks of spiritual joy, as the overflow of “letting the word of Christ dwell in your hearts in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).
We are commanded to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Such growth, and such knowledge can only come from His word, and requires a personal hunger to feed upon it daily. Meditation from the heart is the only guarantee that it will abide in us, and thus qualify us as true disciples, for Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word then are ye My disciples indeed (John 8:31).
This “missing link” will not just fall into place. We need both to instruct and to encourage our people how to meditate upon the Word of God. Such assistance needs to be personal, for only thus can we adequately fulfil the commission, each day, and apply, as did our Lord, the discipline of Scripture memory. Only as we bind the Word continually upon our hearts can it be said of us, “when thou goest it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest it shall keep thee; and when thou wakest it shall talk with thee” (Prov. 6:22).