Suggestions on How to Meditate on Scripture
Letting the Word of God dwell in our lives
The words of Scripture are living words.
For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12.)
They contain eternal wisdom held in the shell of human words. God wants us to “break open” these human words and begin to discover the rich wealth of personal application and understanding that they hold. This goal can be accomplished as you memorize and meditate on Scripture.
The Apostle Saint Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly,in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). Meditation on Scripture will cause Scripture to “dwell in you” and become a source of wisdom in your mind, will, and emotions.
Remember, meditation cannot be done in a hurry. It takes time. Doing studies on the meaning of a passage and committing it to memory prepare you to meditate on it. As you meditate, remember that the Holy Spirit will teach you the ways of God through His Word and through the guidance of the magisterium who is divinely protected from teaching error.
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you." (John 16:13)
"But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you." (John 14:26)
Always remember, that these verses are not saying that the Spirit will grant every individual Christian supernatural insight into the full meaning of the the Scriptures. But as we meditate and principles and lessons are revealed to us, we have the ordained leaders of the Church to fall back on to keep us on tract with understanding what we have read.
"Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost." (II Peter 1:20-21)
The following keys are suggestion to meditation:
Worship God in Your Spirit
Your times of meditation should be times of worship and fellowship with God. Worship God in your spirit as you quote God’s Word back to Him. Reverence God’s Word and purpose to “do all things that are written in it” (Joshua 1:8).
Personalize the Passage
Turn the Scripture into a first-person prayer back to God.
Personalize it by putting it in the first person, using I, me, and my. For example, Colossians 3:16 (quoted above) could be personalized by saying, “Let the word of Christ dwell in ME abundantly,in all wisdom.” When you put Scripture in the first person, it becomes a living expression within your heart, which is one aspect of meditation.
Give Attention to Each Word of Each Verse
Focusing on one verse at a time, quote it to the Lord, pondering each word. With each recitation of a verse, emphasize a different word. For example, if you are meditating on John 3:16, you would emphasize a different word each time you repeated the passage:
“FOR God so loved the world … .”
“For GOD so loved the world … .”
“For God SO loved the world … .”
“For God so LOVED the world … .”
“For God so loved THE world … .”
“For God so loved the WORLD … .”
Be attentive. This simple method of meditation will reveal new insights and give you greater understanding of phrases and sentences. As you hear the words of the passage, you will discern nuances and associations that are often overlooked when the passage is read silently.
Illustrate the Main Concepts Found Within the Passage
As you memorize and meditate on a passage, look for Biblical concepts and patterns. Sometimes drawing simple illustrations with stick figures and symbols can help you remember the main ideas of the passage. Not only will the actual creation of the illustration help you further meditate on the meaning of the passage, but your illustration can serve as a simple summary of what the Lord taught you through meditation on His Word.
Each illustration should represent your current understanding of the action being described in the verse or phrase. As your understanding of the verse deepens, your illustrations will expand.
Meditate on Scripture as You Go to Sleep at Night
One of the most critical times to meditate on God’s Word is as you go to sleep each night. In Scripture, there are many references to meditating on Scripture at this time.
Let not the book of this law depart from thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate on it day and night, that thou mayst observe and do all things that are written in it: then shalt thou direct thy way, and understand it. (Josue/Joshua 1:8)
But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
My eyes to thee have prevented the morning: that I might meditate on thy words. (Psalms 118:148 DRB/ 119:148)
The quiet moments of preparing for sleep offer an ideal setting for contemplation and fellowship with the Lord. The thoughts that are on your mind as you go to sleep will be in your subconscious mind all through the night. I believe they will strongly influence your attitudes the next day, consciously or subconsciously.
Respond to God as He Speaks to You
As you meditate, don’t be discouraged if you have to go over the passage several times before insights begin to come to mind. As God reveals an insight to you, pray it back to Him and ask Him for the grace to apply that truth in your life. If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin in your life, confess it to the Lord and be forgiven.
Apply to your life the insights you gain through meditation on Scripture.
(Taken from basic life principles and adopted for Catholic Church Teaching.)