The spiritual discipline of meditating on Scripture can be intimidating. Why should we do it? What comes from it? How do we do it? How do I overcome the difficulties of meditation on Scripture? These are certainly four pressing questions to anyone who desires to dwell in the Word of God faithfully and hear God’s voice each day.
First things first. You do not need a bunch of books or education to begin meditating on Scripture. All you need to begin a daily routine of meditation on Scripture is time, a bible, and perhaps a journal. A final important aspect one will need for meditation on Scripture is a community to walk through God’s Word faithfully with you. This final component is neglected many times when we begin to meditate upon Scripture. However, it is of immense importance because it creates a relationship built upon a common reflection on God’s Word and it can help prevent faulty readings and interpretations of Scripture.
Bonhoeffer answered the four questions I listed above by sharing how he meditated upon Scripture and offered up prayers each day.
Bonhoeffer believed that Christians should meditate upon Scripture first and foremost because they are Christians. If we say we follow Jesus Christ, then it is imperative for us to know how Christ calls us to obedience. It is in Holy Scripture that we hear God’s will for our lives—how we are to love God and love others.
He also believed that we should expect transformation from our meditation on Scripture. As the people of God read and allow God’s Word to penetrate their souls, they understand the reality of Christ living within them. When we meet with Christ each day before we meet others in the world, we will be strengthened by the grace of Christ for what we will experience.
The final two questions help us to understand how we are to go about meditating upon Scripture. Bonhoeffer believed that the Christian should be concerned with the quality of their time with Scripture over the sheer quantity of reading a text. For Bonhoeffer, a Christian should spend an entire week meditating upon the same ten to fifteen verses of Scripture for at least thirty minutes a day. This repetition may not make sense to us, but for Bonhoeffer, when we allow our hearts to meditate upon the individual words of a small set of verses, then we would be more aware of their power and meaning for our lives. One may begin to feel their heart or mind wander as they meditate upon those texts, but we should engage that wandering and allow it to be the fertile ground for our prayer life. We may perceive that our wandering mind is a problem—but it is not a problem. It is the occasion for prayer. As you read and ponder a text, a family member or a friend may appear in our mind. We must take that opportunity to pray specifically for them as we meditate upon the text. Through this discipline, we are understanding the grace of God and seeking it for our lives and the lives of others.
Most importantly, be patient and faithful in your meditation. One may believe that thirty minutes is too much time to devote to such an exercise, but as we all know, time in God’s word is never a waste. Don’t let the frustrations of life cause you to miss hearing the life-giving word of life that we have through Jesus Christ. Amen.