Meditation is the act of focusing one’s mental energies on a specific topic in an effort to achieve resolution or peace of mind. Biblical meditation narrows that definition to a spiritual exercise focused on Scripture. In biblical meditation, a person deliberately quiets the heart and contemplates certain verses, asking, “What is this saying to me about my life and situation?” or “What is this saying about God?” Biblical meditation can include prayer, Bible memory, and reading. Meditation was common in Bible times, and Joshua 1:8 commands it, promising reward for meditating on and obeying Scripture: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
The Psalms are filled with exhortations to meditate on all the qualities of God. Bible verses about meditation showcase the differences between it and yoga or other forms of non-biblical meditation. Meditating correctly lifts our hearts up in communion with God. Our focus is on Him, not ourselves. We are personalizing truths found in His Word, not seeking to find truth within ourselves. Psalm 119:15–16 notes the object of our meditation: “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” Psalm 77:12 says, “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” This verse well summarizes godly meditation and should be the daily prayer of every Christian: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NLT).
The first biblical example of meditation is found in Genesis 24:63, when Isaac went into the fields in the evening to meditate. While there, he saw his father’s servant returning from Aram Naharaim with Rebekah, who was soon to be Isaac’s bride. The way the Bible records this event hints that meditation was part of Isaac’s regular routine. We don’t know the exact nature of his meditation that day, but he knew that his father had sent for a wife for him. It is likely that Isaac’s daily meditations involved prayer for his future bride, concerns about becoming a husband, and gratefulness to God that he would no longer be lonely after the death of his mother (see Genesis 24:67).
King David gives us another example of meditation. In 2 Samuel 7, Nathan the prophet relays the message that the Lord did not want David to build a house for Him. Instead, God would raise up David’s son (Solomon) who would have that honor. In response to this news, “David went in and sat before the Lord” (verse 18). The rest of the chapter records David’s prayer to God as part of his meditation. “Sitting before the Lord” is a good description of times when we quiet our hearts to commune with God. We remove distractions, enter into a spirit of worship, pray, and allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal what needs to be changed (Psalm 139:23). In that quietness, God often brings to mind passages of Scripture we have previously learned and applies them to our current situation.
For example, a teacher may wrestle with a request from a particularly annoying student to chauffer him somewhere. He does not want to do this. He has prayed, “Lord, I would do it for you, but I don’t want to do it for him. I’ve helped him enough.” But he does not stop with a prayer. He takes time to meditate on the Lord and His glory, and as he does, a verse comes to mind: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). The teacher now has direction. Not only do we learn more of God when we meditate, but He can speak to us when our minds are focused on Him.
Psalm 1:1–2 promotes meditation: “Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” To be blessed is to be spiritually prosperous and favored by God. But how is it possible to meditate on God’s law “day and night”? That happens when meditation becomes habitual, part of one’s lifestyle. A person who is filled with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25) lives in a state of ongoing meditation, even while going about a daily routine. God is never far from his or her mind, and every sight, sound, and event is another opportunity to share with the Lord. “The traffic is scary today, Lord. Thank you for your protection.” “That redbud tree is gorgeous, Lord. It reminds me of your beauty and creativity. Your Word says that all your works praise you (Psalm 145:10), and that tree certainly does!” When our hearts are in tune with God, meditation comes naturally and is a good way to keep ourselves from evil (Psalm 34:14–15).