About Christian Meditation

I have been reading the Bible from cover to cover, over and over again, following different Bible plans, for many years. As soon as I have read to the end of the book of Revelations I start over in Genesis. Among other things, I think that it has helped me to understand the context of the Bible, and God has really spoken to me through the readings. But, I have never actually taken the time for meditation, if you don´t count memorizing a verse every now and then, at least not in a structured way, and I think that that has been a missing piece for me. 

Recently I read a book by an author in the university where I’m currently studying. In his book the author goes through spiritual disciplines found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in Jesus Christ. One of the spiritual disciplines described in the book is Bible intake and one of the methods is called meditation. 


First a few words about what this post will not be about

There are different views, books, lists and articles about the spiritual disciplines, and there is actually a whole movement called the Spiritual Formation Movement. As far as I can understand, the movement has some misconceptions about spirituality and Biblical discipline. My goal in this small post is not to examine that movement, it is not to promote that movement nor promote anything that is not in line with what the Bible teaches. This post is about meditation on God’s Word, which is encouraged in many places in the Bible, for example in Psalms 1:1-3

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers.


This post will be about this

In this post I will share the personal story of one of my first “meditation sessions” and also list some of the different ways to meditate that I have just read about, maybe this will inspire you to start meditating on the Word of God.

Since the only practical way of meditation that I knew about, before reading the book, was memorizing, the list of methods opened up a whole new world for me. I enjoy practical books that can lead to immediate action. After reading about it, the first thing I did was write down all the different kinds of meditation methods that were listed in the book. I then made up my mind to go through them all, using and meditating on one single verse. 

The easiest way to find a verse to meditate on, I figured, was to look up “Today’s verse” in my Bible app, and that day it happened to be Matthew 4:4. I thought, “oh well, I already know this verse” (by memory) “how much more can I learn?” (when I’m writing this I’m laughing out loud at myself). To my surprise, it was so captivating! One hour flew by as I started to meditate with the first method I had written down: Emphasizing each word. For Matthew 4:4 it looks like this:

“But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ””

But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ””

But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ””

… and so on. 

As I was reading and writing down the verse over and over again, emphasizing the words one by one, the Holy Spirit started to show me so much that I hadn’t thought about before. For example, I had only remembered the verse paraphrased (not word by word). My memorized version went something like this: Man shall not live only by bread but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. But, the verse actually starts with “But, Jesus answered”, and that produced my first thought about the verse: that God himself was speaking about speaking. 

When I came to “answered”, I thought, who did He answer? So, I read Matthew 4:1-4 and understood that He answered the devil. The context is that Jesus is in the desert being tempted by the devil. That thought gave the verse a whole different light… and on and on it went. Here is just a fraction of other thoughts that I took from the meditation session. 

  • Answering the devil about himself, Jesus cited a verse from the Old Testament that spoke about man, humans. By doing that, He was kind of stressing His humanity. But of course He is also 100% God, speaking at that very moment.
  • Jesus says that man lives by bread, but not only by bread. We could not live if we would only have food.
  • Jesus says that man, every human, also lives on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Not just Christian humans, it just says man. God’s word is holding everything together. All life is maintained by His words.
  • It says that God’s word proceeds, like it is still proceeding. Of course Jesus was at that very moment speaking so the words of God were proceeding.
  • Jesus says that He is the bread of life in John 6:51. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
    So the bread of life was speaking to the devil saying that man shall not live by food (bread) alone but they shall live of Him. That is telling the devil that He is the Messiah, answering the devil’s question which started with: “If you are the Son of God…”
  • The context of the verse that Jesus is citing, is from Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, when Israel is walking through the desert. God sent manna (food) from heaven to teach the children of Israel to live every day by God’s word. Every day new manna, every day new words from God. I looked up the verse:

    Deuteronomy 8:3 And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

Coming back to the first part that I emphasized: But Jesus answered. Jesus is speaking, the words of God, the very substance that all humankind lives because of. I realize that He probably said more to the devil in that phrase than I could ever understand. And that was from a verse that I thought I already knew… 

Next time I am going to meditate on the same verse but following a different meditation method, maybe until I have meditated on the same verse using all the different methods listed below. I’m sure the Holy Spirit will surprise me and use this verse to teach me more and more. This is a new way for me to read the Bible. Of course it won’t take away my favorite cover to cover kind of reading, but it was surprisingly fun! 

And here comes the list:


A selection of meditation methods

  1. Emphasize different words in the text
  2. Rewrite the text in your own words
  3. Formulate a principle from the text – what does it teach?
  4. Think of an illustration of the text, what picture explains it? Or create an artistic expression of the text.
  5. Look for applications of the text
  6. Ask how the text points to the law or the gospel (how does it relate to the New Testament and Old Testament)
  7. Ask how the texts asks something about Jesus
  8. Ask what question is answered or what problem is solved by the text
  9. Memorize the text
  10. Read the text and set (and discover) a minimum number of insights that you should get from the text before you “leave” it. 
  11. Find a link or common thread between all the paragraphs or chapters you read
  12. Ask how the text speaks to your current issue or question
  13. Use meditation mapping (like mind mapping) with pen and paper (different colors are recommended 🙂 ).