Spiritual Formation

Meditate and Contemplate

In an age of “information overload” and constant activity we must slow down long enough for God to make Himself known.  (One of the reasons I am enjoying blogging.)

“Think time” — time to process what you are seeing, learning, and experiencing

“Meditation, when it is effective, engages the whole heart: intellect, intuition, will, affection, and moral sense.”[1]

“Meditation, therefore, involves deep, repetitive reflection on eternal truth.”[2]

Pondering the truth of God’s word until it becomes woven into the fabric of our everyday living. (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:1-2)

In order to have effective meditation there must be something to meditate on, so study and memorization of Scripture are part of meditation. But many of us in ministry focus only on study, because we have teaching deadlines, and don’t give enough attention to meditation.


“Meditation investigates, contemplation wonders.”[3]

“Meditation is the act of turning our attention from the things of the world to the things of God, but contemplation involves turning our attention from the things of God to attend to God himself.”[4]

Summary of the Process of Meditation[5]

Meditation can be divided into essentially four steps.

REALIZE the content of God’s truth.

God’s truth is realized through reading and studying the Scriptures (and contemplating the works and ways of God that are observable).

RETAIN God’s truth.

Even though meditation can be done without memorizing the text, some memory work must be done if meditation is to be periodically engaged in throughout the day (Psa. 1:2). Meditation generally works best when dealing with small units of the text (a verse or two).

REFLECT on God’s truth.

“Ponder” is a good synonym for “meditate.” Consider the meaning of the text for those who lived during its composition, then how it affects (or ought to affect) you in your workaday existence. How does it touch on your relationships in the home, family, work, church, and community?

RESPOND to God’s truth.

The response involved ought to be dictated either by the direct content of the text or a logical extension of it. For example, if the text contains one of the items in the left column, the logical response is shown in the right column:

A command

A determination to obey, or an appeal to God for help in obeying

A description of a blessing, or of God’s greatness

An offering of praise and thanksgiving to God

A command that you have disobeyed, or a reminder of one

Confession of sin (1 John 1:9)

An example of godly living

An appeal to God for assistance in imitating that example

An example of disobedience or rebellion

An expression of your determination to stay away from such conduct, and an appeal for God’s grace in helping you do so

As you can see, meditation leads naturally to prayer. It is, in fact, the integration of Bible study and prayer: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psa 19:14).

[1] Bruce Demarest, Satisfy your soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999) p. 133.

[2] Bruce Demarest, Satisfy your soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999) p. 134.

[3] Bruce Demarest, Satisfy your soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999) p. 164 quoting Richard of St. Victor.

[4] Bruce Demarest, Satisfy your soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999) p. 164 quoting R. Paul Stevens.

[5] Adapted from Doug McIntosh, God Up Close, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998).

Author: Steve

I love to study the Bible and I love to engage with others in learning. I had been privileged to do this on a regular basis through church ministry and through part-time teaching at a local Bible colleges. Helping individuals learn to feed themselves through their own study of God’s Word is joy-giving to me. Influencing groups to do life and church from a biblically grounded, theologically faithful perspective is my passion.

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