I stood at my kitchen sink as tears of frustration burst from my eyes. I was overstimulated, overtired, and overwhelmed. Between sobs I whispered, “I can’t do this anymore.” I was too weak to keep up with the never-ending stream of demands, no matter how simple they were. As the chaos continued around me, I desperately repeated these words in my head, begging my heart to believe them: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Once again, biblical meditation became a lifeline—a sweet gift from my loving Father.
The Gift of Biblical Meditation
Throughout my life, I’ve often felt a disconnect between reading the Bible and life’s everyday challenges. I’d have my quiet time, but as soon as the day’s demands came, I’d forget about what I read. It left me feeling discouraged and even guilty that I became so easily distracted. Bible reading became less of a priority in my already busy life because it didn’t seem to be producing much fruit. Then I discovered the gift of biblical meditation.
Biblical meditation is something God commands in Scripture, and the results he promises are astounding. This discipline engages our minds and hearts with Scripture in such a way that we see how its truths transform every part of our lives. Meditating on God’s Word day and night characterizes a person who is truly “blessed” or happy (Ps. 1:1–2). Biblical meditation allows us to apply what the Bible says to our lives so that we “may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Josh. 1:8). This is good news for the woman who’s frustrated that her Bible reading doesn’t have the impact she desires. It’s good news for anyone who struggles to not just hear the Word but do it (James 1:22). If you resonate with these issues, maybe what you’re missing is biblical meditation.
But what exactly is biblical meditation? Is it the same thing as the popular meditation touted by influencers and self-help icons on the internet? Not quite. Biblical meditation is thinking deeply on the truths of Scripture. When we meditate on the Bible, we fill our minds with God’s Word. Instead of letting the words on the page exit our brains as quickly as they entered, we hold them there, contemplating them, chewing on them, praying about them. We ask the Lord to help us believe the truth, to transform us by it, and to apply it to our lives. We repeat it in our minds and preach it to our souls.
The Impact of Biblical Meditation
As I began to practice the spiritual discipline of biblical meditation, I was amazed at how it transformed my everyday life. I still struggled with difficult circumstances, overwhelming days, and my own pesky sin issues, but I noticed a shift in my response.
Instead of despair, my mind increasingly turned to the Scripture I’d been meditating on. I began to ask myself, how does the truth of who God is and what he’s done impact the way I respond in this moment? As I contemplated my need for God and the always-available aid of the Holy Spirit, my patience began to grow, and my cries of despair turned to cries for help. The character of God running through my head and my heart stirred up hope, trust, and even joy in incredibly dark seasons. The smallest glimpses of beauty became reasons to relish in God’s grace, and the most trivial annoyances became opportunities to hope in Jesus.
The practice of biblical meditation is fruitful in every season. In times when life is full of pain and trouble and it seems as if God has abandoned you, you can join David in meditating on God’s enduring faithfulness throughout the ages (Ps. 143:5). When people around you reject God’s Word and celebrate sin, you can call to mind the truth of Scripture. When you experience the beauty of creation, you can meditate on the greatness and love of the Lord (Ps. 8).
The Practice of Biblical Meditation
Biblical meditation is a transformational discipline that God uses to encourage, challenge, and mature us, but knowing where to start can be difficult. Here are four tips on how to practice biblical meditation:
1. Meditate small
When choosing Scripture to meditate on, choose a short verse, word, or concept from Scripture. Perhaps you choose to meditate on a characteristic of God you observed in your Bible reading, a command that was especially convicting, or a promise that impacts how you respond to life’s challenges. Instead of choosing a verse in isolation, pull your meditation from what you’re already studying in Scripture. This practice protects you from misinterpreting a verse out of context and also deepens your current Bible study.
2. Read over and over
One of the simplest ways to meditate on Scripture is to read a specific verse over and over again. Each time you read, ponder different aspects of the verse. What does it tell you about who God is? What does it tell you about your own heart? Why is this truth so significant? Consider writing your thoughts in a journal. You may even find that you begin to memorize the verse from the repetition, which makes it much easier to meditate on throughout the day.
Meditation is not a magical practice that produces change if we follow the correct steps. It’s a means through which the Lord works to transform our hearts. So depend on him in your meditation! Pray through the verse. Ask God to help you understand. Thank him for who he is. Repent of the sin the verse revealed in you. Ask him to transform you and apply the truth.
Don’t let your meditation come to an end when your quiet time is over. God tells us to meditate on his Word day and night (Josh. 1:8). Return to the truth throughout the day. Consider writing down the verse and putting it somewhere that you will see it regularly. You could even set a few alarms throughout the day to remind you to read it again. The more you practice, the more natural it will become.
I still have many days where the tears come and those same words escape my lips—I can’t do this—but by God’s grace, the hope comes rushing in more quickly each time. My prayer is that in any circumstance, your heart and mind will run to the truth of God’s Word.
Meet the Author
Joanna Kimbrel serves as content coordinator for The Gospel Coalition. She is a Bible teacher and writer with a passion for sharing the beauty of God’s Word with others. She is author of The Greatest Hero: The Book of Romans. Joanna and her husband Chad have two daughters and are members of Sojourn Community Church in Woodstock, Georgia. You can follow her on Instagram.