Excerpt from Meeting God in Scripture

Med­i­ta­tion on Scrip­ture was a com­mon activ­i­ty in Jew­ish cul­ture. It is men­tioned fif­teen times just in the Psalms. Those who med­i­tat­ed on the law day and night flour­ished like trees plant­ed by streams of water. Med­i­tat­ing on Scrip­ture gave the psalmists wis­dom that sur­passed their teach­ers and ene­mies, led to dili­gent obe­di­ence and kept them out of temp­ta­tion’s way. Med­i­ta­tion was a delight­ful prac­ticeGod’s words tast­ed sweet­er than hon­ey (Psalm 7:7-3; 119:97 – 103).

Scrip­ture med­i­ta­tion has been so neglect­ed in the last cen­tu­ry that some have come to asso­ciate med­i­ta­tion only with East­ern reli­gions. But the fact that med­i­ta­tion is com­mon in East­ern reli­gions does­n’t mean it is wrong. East­ern reli­gions prac­tice oth­er dis­ci­plines Chris­tians prac­tice, such as fast­ing, pray­ing and even repeat­ing quo­ta­tions from Jesus. Per­haps Scrip­ture med­i­ta­tion became infre­quent because of the post- Enlight­en­ment empha­sis on sci­ence and lin­ear think­ing, which dis­placed reflec­tion and rest (two ideas found promi­nent­ly in the Psalms). 

Like all spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines, Scrip­ture med­i­ta­tion is anoth­er way to become more atten­tive to the still, small voice of God and to become more will­ing to respond when we hear it. Paired with the study of Scrip­ture, med­i­ta­tion helps both those who are new to faith and those who feel like they’ve heard it all before. Even if you’re famil­iar with the words and ideas, in Scrip­ture med­i­ta­tion God speaks the words we need to hear in our life today. Because med­i­tat­ing on Scrip­ture helps us hear God’s Word to us, we expe­ri­ence even well-known pas­sages in fresh ways.

Excerpt­ed from Meet­ing God in Scrip­ture: A Hands-On Guide to Lec­tio Div­ina by Jan John­son, pub­lished in 2016 by Inter­var­si­ty Press (Down­er’s Grove, IL). 

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