How often do you slow down and focus deeply? When do you still your mind and body to simply listen to God and focus on his word? Probably not much, if you’re like most people today. We’re all busy and pulled in many different directions. Some say meditation on God’s Word is a lost art in our modern culture. We don’t know how to be still and allow God’s words to root deep into our hearts, yet doing so should be a crucial and vital part of our prayer life.
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
Why Is Mediation on Scripture Important?
The Psalmist explains in Psalm 119 why meditating on scripture is so important. It allows God’s words to soak deep into our hearts. We keep his words “hidden in our heart” to keep us from sinning. We learn his rule for life so deeply that we can recount every word in order to stay on the right path. We learn to delight in his ways, following his lead. We permeate every part of our life with God’s word, which gives us wisdom, guidance, and joy.
3 Ways to Mediate on Scripture
1) Lectio Divina
“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation “ ~St. John of the Cross
Lectio Divina is a form of prayer called “divine reading”. It’s a way to meditate on scripture and listen for God’s voice through those words. This form of prayer and meditation has been practiced by Christians since the 3rd century. Throughout history, Christian leaders across a variety faith traditions have championed Lectio Divina as a vital form of prayer and study, including St. Benedict, St. Augustine, John Calvin, Richard Baxter, and Pope Benedict XVI.
This form of prayer consists of four movements, or components – lectio (read), meditatio (meditate), oratio (pray), and contemplatio (contemplate). In The Oblate Life, Gervase Holdaway compared Lectio Divina to feasting on the Word. First, the taking of a bite (lectio); then chewing on it (meditatio); savoring its essence (oratio) and, finally, “digesting” it and making it a part of the body (contemplatio).
Start by selecting a verse to read. You may choose a single verse, or read through a larger passage and allow the Holy Spirit to call out a key verse for you. Read over the verse a few times. Go slowly, paying attention to each word. Try reading it silently and aloud. Allow the words to become familiar. Listen with the “ear of your heart.”
In the silence, turn the words of the verse over and over in your mind. As you let the words and phrases turn over in your heart, listen for God’s voice and reflect on the words or phrases which speak most to your heart. What is God telling you through these words? What is he asking you to focus on in your life or in the life of others? How is God speaking to your heart through these words? Spend time in the silence with God, listening more than forming thoughts.
Pray over your experience and what you’ve heard through your meditation. How will you respond to God in light of the message he’s placed in your heart? Where do you need his help and guidance? Offer this up to God in prayer.
Close by resting in God, sitting in silence, listening for how God is speaking to you though this scripture. Contemplate how you’ll respond. You may even choose to journal your experience. Write down your verse, how God spoke to your heart, and your response to him. How has this changed your experience of God and what will you do differently now?
I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart. If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime. ~Pope Benedict XVI
2) Write a verse and memorize it
The Psalmist talks of hiding God’s word in our hearts and meditating on it all day long. The best way to do this is by memorizing scripture. Commit a verse to memory so that it’s deep in your heart and available to you to call on no matter where you are.
Choose a verse on which to meditate. Write it down on a card. Keep the card with you throughout the day, continuing to look at it and committing it to memory. Tape it to your bathroom mirror, set it beside your computer at work, keep it in your pocket for easy reference. Commit to memorizing the verse during the day or over the week. Each time you read over the verse and work to memorize it, allow God’s words to sink deep into your heart.
3) Doodle a verse
I love to pray through prayer doodles. Writing and doodling help to quiet the distractions in my mind and focus my thoughts on God. While I’ll often use prayer doodles for intercessory prayer, another form is to pray over a key verse. I’ll write out the verse and then spend time to draw and doodle around it. This practice brings focus to each letter, each word, allowing the verse to permeate my spirit. It’s a first step toward memorizing the verse and a way to soak in the scripture verse. Often, the act of drawing and coloring is just what my busy mind needs to settle into the quiet and clear out the distractions.
I actually love to combine all three of these methods. I’ll start by doodling the verse, writing it out and then spending time over each word, inviting God into this time of meditation and opening my mind to hear him. As my mind is cleared of distractions and prepared to listen, I’ll then spend time in Lectio Divina, quietly meditating on this verse, listening for God’s response. I’ll journal what I’ve heard in this time, often around the verse I’ve previously written and doodled. I’ll then write out the verse on a card to take with me during the day.
How will you choose to meditate on God’s word this week? Spend time to allow his words to soak deeply into your heart and permeate the darkest corners of your mind. Let his word guide your path and steady your decisions, keeping you firmly rooted to his way.
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I h ave more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.