Meditation

When you think of the word “meditation” what immediately comes to your mind?

I am sure we all have varying images in our minds when we think of meditation. These images can range from individuals meditating in a yoga class…or an individual sitting in a lotus pose with their legs crossed and palms facing upward on their knees…or a group of individuals kneeling in a prayer-like position meditating for religious purposes.

Whatever image comes to your mind…the meaning of meditation for each of these images can vary as well…from quieting your spirit to emptying your minds of any thoughts to praying to a god or God…to really a long list of many more meanings!

As Christians it is important that we too embrace this concept of meditation…meditation on God’s Word.

Meditating on God’s Word is one of the spiritual disciplines and God actually commands it! There are many scriptures that embody this concept of meditation.

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. Joshua 1:8 NIV

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. Psalm 1:2 NLT

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15 ESV

May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. Psalm 104:34 NIV

So what exactly does it mean to “meditate” on God’s word?

Interestingly…to “meditate” can be defined as “to study, contemplate, ponder, think, consider, reflect, or ruminate.”

Ruminate? This word is usually referenced to an animal…more specifically cows…and means to bring up and chew again what has already been chewed and swallowed. Yeah pretty gross…I know!

Cows have very interesting stomachs made up of 4 parts. When a cow takes a bite of grass…it chews it briefly…mixing it with large amounts of saliva. It then swallows this and it goes down to stomach number one. Here it starts to digest and break down into smaller parts.

After some time passes the cow will bring this food back up again and chew it some more. When he swallows it this time it is smaller and finer and goes down into stomach number two. Here the water is taken out and the food is made into pellets. A little later the cow lays down and brings back up the pellets into its mouth where it chews away for hours….commonly termed as a cow “chewing the cud.” The food then goes to the third and finally into the fourth stomachs.

Just like cows ruminate…we are to meditate (ruminate) on the Word of God. Just like cows eat grass…chew it…swallow it…regurgitate it…chew it again…and again and again…we are to do the same with the Word of God.

Through this process of rumination/meditation the cow will finally digest the grass…and we too will digest God’s Word….our spiritual food.

We can clearly see from this analogy that meditation requires action…it is not passive.

In order for God’s word to penetrate deeply into our minds and hearts, we need to do more than simply read God’s Word…we need to meditate on God’s Word…we need to intentionally engage our minds on God’s Word.

Why should we meditate on God’s Word? Besides the fact that God commands it.

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. Joshua 1:8 NIV

The purpose of meditation is application. We meditate on God’s Word in order to actually do what it says. Not to mention the blessings we will receive too!

So how do we meditate on the Word of God?

PACE (your) STEPS

When we pace ourselves it means to slow down and to take things in steps. So instead of rushing into things…instead of rushing and reading God’s Word and checking it off our ‘To Do’ lists…

We need to “pace ourselves”…intentionally slow down… take things into consideration…and meditate.

The next time you read a Bible passage or scripture…ask yourself if there is a…

P…PROMISE TO (believe)?

A…ATTITUDE TO (change)?

C…COMMAND TO (obey)?

E…EXAMPLE TO (follow)?

(your)

S…SIN TO (confess)?

T…TRUTH TO (receive)?

E…ERROR TO (avoid)?

P…PRAYER TO (pray)?

S…SOMETHING TO (thank God for)?

This is a very practical way to meditate on God’s Word because PACE (your) STEPS is an acronym to help us think about what we are reading and how we can apply it to our lives.

Another way to meditate on God’s Word is to spend time reading in the morning and then remind ourselves sometime during the day what we read and then remember and ponder once more before we go to bed.

I know what some of you are probably thinking…I can’t do that…I don’t have time for that…I am too tired! Well…I love what Pastor Rick Warren says…

If you can worry, you can meditate! Rick Warren

And a final way to help you meditate on God’s Word is by writing scriptures on cards…taking them with you throughout your day…and reading through them during a break in your day. This is actually a Jewish practice in the Old Testament.

The Jews were told to tie little leather boxes called “tefillin” (often seen in English translations as “frontlets”) to their body which contained a small scroll of parchment with written scriptures. God wanted His people to remember and to meditate on scripture.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ESV

Mediating on God’s Word is a very important spiritual discipline for us as Christians. When God’s Word penetrates our hearts and minds we will be careful to do everything written in it. And as a result we will be prosperous and successful! (Joshua 1:8)

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 NIV

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. Psalm 1:1-2 NASB

Reflection Points:

  1. What does it mean to “meditate” on God’s word?
  2. What does it mean when cows ruminate?
  3. Why should we meditate on God’s Word?
  4. How do we meditate on God’s Word?

Action Points:

  1. Meditating on God’s Word means…not just reading God’s Word…but ruminating on His Word. It means to continually study…contemplate…ponder…think…consider…reflect on His Word.
  2. The word “ruminate” is often referred to animals such as cows and means “to bring up and chew again what has already been chewed and swallowed.” Just like cows ruminate…we are to meditate (ruminate) on the Word of God. Just like cows eat grass…chew it…swallow it…regurgitate it…chew it again…and again and again…we are to do the same with the Word of God.
  3. The purpose of meditation is application. We meditate on God’s Word in order to actually do what it says. We will receive many blessings as well when we meditate on God’s Word.(Joshua 1:8)
  4. Please refer to the 3 practical ways mentioned above to better understand how we can practically meditate on God’s Word.
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When He is Silent

Who likes the silent treatment? I certainly don’t. Of course lately, as I have been spending these long summer days with my 2 active little boys…silence is actually quite nice! If I get a moment of silence…I will take it!

But many times in life, silence can make us feel a bit awkward…and can make us feel quite impatient. Especially when we are waiting for a response.

This is very evident in our ever increasing world of modern technology…when we send a friend a text or email a coworker…and we wait and wait and wait for their response.

So what about when God is silent? What about when you have prayed and prayed to God…and nothing?

No answers…no direction…no guidance…no “yes’s”…no “no’s”….no nothing! Just silence! It certainly can be discouraging!

The dictionary defines the word silence as…“a situation or state in which someone does not talk about or answer questions about something; absence of any sound or noise; stillness; the state of being forgotten; oblivion.”

Wow…Did you catch the latter part of the definition? The state of being forgotten…

Isn’t that what we begin to think when the clock keeps ticking…hours turn into days…days turn into months…and even months turn into years…and we are still waiting for God to answer?

When God is silent…we may think that He has forgotten us.

When God is silent…we may want to give up.

When God is silent…we may stop praying.

There are times that I have certainly struggled with this because I just want an answer… don’t you? Because even if the answer is “no”…then I can process that answer and move forward.

So why does God remain silent?

Well…we can sit here and spit out endless reasons why God is silent like…

His timing is perfect…

His unlimited mind knows what our limited minds do not…

He knows what is on the other side of His answer…

He doesn’t think we are ready for His answer…again timing!

He wants to develop our patience…

He wants to build our faith…

And this is just to name a few as the list can go on!

I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Isaiah 55:8-9 MSG

So what then should we do when God is silent? Keep praying.

I know…easier said than done! Not the answer you probably wanted to hear.

But this is God’s desire…His heart is that we come to Him and pray to Him often…and persistently.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 NIV

Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 1Thessalonians 5:17 AMP

O LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You. Psalm 88:1 NASB

Why are we persistent in anything that we do in life? Because we have an expectancy…right? We are expecting an answer…a result…an outcome.

And so it should be with our prayers…Why should we pray with persistency? …because we have an expectancy. We expect a response from God…we expect an answer from God!

And one thing that I can tell you that we can certainly expect is that…He hears us…He hears every prayer…He hears every petition…He hears every cry…even when He is silent.

I love the Lord, because he has heard [and now hears] my voice and my supplications.” Psalm 116:1 AMP

How persistent are your prayers…especially when God is silent? How often do you pray?

The Bible is full of men and women who prayed persistently to God. And one such individual who should really capture our attention is James…Jesus’ half-brother.

James was a man of prayer and his letter…the Book of James…clearly emphasizes prayer.

Because James prayed so much…he was actually  nicknamed “Old Camel Knees”!

What does praying and camel’s knees have anything to do with each other?

Have you ever seen a camel’s knees up close?

camel knees camel kneeling

They have thick hard calluses. When camels lower themselves to allow a rider to climb aboard…their front knees hit the ground first… so over the course of a lifetime their knees get quite a workout.

Because James prayed so much…his knees were as hard as the calluses on a camel – camel knees. This demonstrates years and years of determined praying!

How determined are you? Are you ready to give up and stop praying when God is silent…or are you determined to keep praying…pray without ceasing…pray persistently?

Now we all don’t necessarily need to have calluses on our knees to prove our persistence…but when was the last time you walked into your room…shut the door…got down on your knees and prayed…like James?

I am not saying you can’t pray throughout your day…which I do and encourage you to if you don’t already (pray while you are driving…working…jogging etc.) But do you ever get down on your knees to pray to your Heavenly Father? (I do understand that some of you are physically unable to.)

This kneeling position is actually a demonstration of humble submission and reverence to God. It exemplifies honor and respect like kneeling before a king or ruler.

And interestingly…isn’t it just like the enemy to make you think that a person on their knees is in a position of one who has been struck down…downcast…and defeated…But, even though we may be down on our knees…we are looking up…to God.

We pray persistently because we expect an answer from God. But God desires us to pray often and persistently not just to answer us but to use our persistent prayers for His purposes.

1. God uses our persistent prayers to center our attention.

Persistence compels us to the true center of prayer…which is not about something but someone. It directs our attention and focus to God.

2. God uses our persistent prayers to deepen our relationship with Him.

Persistence compels our heart to examine what it really wants most. Do you want God’s will? Do you want God even more than you want what you are asking for?

3. God uses our persistent prayers to develop our patience.

Persistence demands patience…waiting. This is the ground for spiritual growth. Frustrations in prayer can purge and purify our desires. Perhaps God desires to give you exactly what you have asked for…but only in a time and way that the gift can truly benefit you instead of harming you.

4. God uses our persistent prayers to build our faith.

Persistence requires our faith to be stretched. When God is silent…we are pushed to keep praying…keep trusting…keep having faith in the God who holds the answers.

5. God uses our persistent prayers to mold…even transform…our desires to change how we pray and even what we are praying for so we gradually come to pray closer to the heart of God’s will.

A great example is when The Apostle Paul prayed three times for a “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) He never tells us what it is…simply that it is painful…a source of torment…“a messenger of Satan.”

When God didn’t answer his prayer as asked…Paul changed how he prayed.  He prayed that God would help him to rely on God’s grace…God’s strength…and God’s power which was made perfect in Paul’s weakness.

When we have prayed and prayed and prayed…and God is silent…we need to shift our perspective…be determined to keep praying often and persistently like James…and as hard as it is…understand that God will answer in His time and His purposes go way beyond the answers we are waiting for!

Reflection Points:

1. Have you ever prayed and prayed for something…and God is silent?

2. Why does God remain silent?

3. What should we do when God is silent?

4. How often do you pray? How persistent are your prayers…especially when God is silent?

5. Why was James’ nickname “Old Camel Knees”?

6. What is God’s purposes in our persistent prayers?

Action Points:

1.It is God’s desire that we come to Him and pray often and persistently…especially when He is silent.

2.There are endless reasons why God may remain silent. Refer back to some of those reasons.

3.We should keep praying when God is silent. God hears every prayer…every petition…every request!

4. James was a man of prayer and great example to us. He was nicknamed “Old Camel Knees” because he had hard calluses on his knees from kneeling and praying so much!

5. God uses our persistent prayers for His purposes. Review the list above.