People have different images come to mind when they hear the word meditation. For some, meditation is sitting in a certain position and clearing one’s mind for relaxation; others believe it is a spiritual discipline of focusing on a key word or image for an extended period of time; still others think of meditation as emptying oneself of all thoughts and emotions. The Bible presents a different definition of meditation, which is focused solely on the Word of God and what it reveals about Him.
Joshua was commanded to meditate on God’s law day and night in order to have godly success in his endeavors (Joshua 1:8). David speaks of his love for and subsequent meditation on the law (Psalm 119:97). The Bible also mentions people meditating on what God’s Word reveals about God: His works (Psalm 143:5), deeds (Psalm 119:27), promises (Psalm 119:148), and unfailing love (Psalm 48:9). Meditation in the Bible involves a pondering of God’s Word and a deep reflection upon its truths.
When Joshua was told to meditate constantly on God’s law, his meditation was to make him “careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8). Thinking on God’s Word and His character is the focus of meditation, and its goal is obedience. Focusing on the Bible and God’s ways will help us in our walk with God: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
In the New Testament, Timothy is told to “meditate on” what Paul has written (1 Timothy 4:15, KJV)—the NASB has “be absorbed in.” All believers are admonished in Philippians 4:8 to control their thoughts: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Meditating on what is good and right has the end goal of turning thoughts into action and putting them into practice (Philippians 4:9). Coming into contact with the Bible should promote change in a person’s life (James 1:22–25), and biblical meditation will help ensure proper change.
The Bible’s view of meditation is different from what the world tells us it is. Modern teachings on meditation stem from false religions: transcendental meditation, for example, finds its roots in Hinduism. Secular views on meditation may see it as a healthy way to relax and remove stress from one’s life. Ultimately, non-biblical forms of meditation, whether from Hinduism or from secularism, cannot provide lasting peace, as only Christ can give true and enduring peace (John 14:27).
Christians should follow the Bible’s teaching on meditation and meditate on God and His Word, not on ourselves or the things of this world. We should not participate in the world’s version of meditation, but instead meditate on God’s Word and allow it to transform us (Romans 12:2).