The practice of meditation is often associated with Western religions or the New Age movement (New Era, in Portuguese), but it is also very important in Christianity. For a Christian, one of the most effective ways to meditate is to use the Word of God. Unlike other ways, with which it is necessary to "empty" the mind, this option only requires the practitioner to immerse himself headlong into the truth of the Lord.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing Your Topic
Step 1. Define "meditation" in a Christian context
In the lay context, meditation is associated with calming the mind and spirit. To meditate on the Word of God (or any other Christian form), in turn, one must concentrate and think on the truth of the Lord.
- Think, for example, of the words God spoke to Joshua in Joshua 1:8: "Let not the book of this law depart from your mouth; but meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.: for then shalt thou make thy way prosper, and thou shalt be successful."
- Although this verse only refers to what Christians consider the first five books of the Bible, you can still apply the idea to meditation with the entire holy book. Meditate often with the Word of God to gain a better understanding of what you should do in your daily life.
Step 2. Meditate using a verse or paragraph
This is probably the most common way to meditate using the Bible. Choose a specific passage and explore its meaning over a period of time.
There is no "wrong choice"; however, if you don't know where to start, choose a verse from the New Testament - preferably from one of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As for the Old Testament, the books of Psalms and Proverbs are also excellent choices
Step 3. Meditate thinking about a specific subject
This is another interesting option: instead of choosing a passage from the Bible, find several of them that address the same topic and think about how they manage to define or discuss it.
Focus on the theme "forgiveness", for example. Use a topical Bible or index to find varied verses on the subject; then read as many as you can. Examine the context of each and compare them to each other
Step 4. Explore the meaning of a single word
This option is similar to the previous one; however, rather than choosing a broad topic, you will have to pay attention to the context of one or more passages to enrich your understanding of the term's meaning.
Choose the word "Sir" for example. Find verses with the term, in both upper and lower case letters. Also think about their contexts and use external sources, such as dictionaries, to compare their religious and secular uses
Step 5. Study one of the books in the Bible
With this technique, you will have to spend more time reading an entire book instead of certain passages. Analyze and explore the meaning of the text, both as a unit and as multiple pieces joined together.
If it sounds too complicated, start with a relatively short book like Esther's. If you like, supplement your understanding with a Bible study guide
Part 2 of 3: Focusing on God
Step 1. Find a quiet place
As with the secular forms of practice, one must stay in a quiet and distraction-free environment to meditate using the Word of God attentively.
- As important as it is today to be able to do several things at the same time, you will not be able to devote yourself fully to any task if you have to fragment your attention. Minimize distractions while meditating on God's Word and focus more.
- Set aside 15-30 minutes for meditation. Tell your family or those who live with you that you need time to concentrate and find a calm, private environment. Make the situation comfortable, but not enough to fall asleep.
Step 2. Calm the heart
It is not enough to promote external silence when meditating; you should also be calm inside, pushing aside doubts, fears, and other distracting thoughts.
Don't blame yourself if your mind starts pondering the day's problems, but don't get lost like this either. As soon as you notice that you are straying from your purpose because of other ideas, take a break and redirect your attention to God. If you want, ask the Lord for help
Step 3. Read the Bible
Open it and read the verse (or verses) you want to meditate on. Take as much time as you need to understand the words and then mark where you left off; you will have to refer to the same passage over and over again.
- After reading the passage once, go back to the beginning and start over. This time, read it aloud and place greater emphasis on specific passages to look for new interpretations. Repeat the exercise whenever you need to.
- If necessary, use other tools to improve your understanding: research the cultural context of the passage; read verses that have similar themes or tones; find the meaning of words you don't know in a dictionary, etc.
Step 4. Pray or pray with the readings in mind
Take a few minutes to talk to God and ask for guidance. Ask Him to open your heart to the truth and wisdom of His Word.
The Bible may seem like a random collection of words and paragraphs, but remember that you are reading God's sayings. Asking the Holy Spirit to increase your understanding while meditating is basically like asking the author of a work to help you understand the story you've written
Part 3 of 3: Meditating on God's Word
Step 1. Take notes
Reread the chosen passage - but this time write down comments about the text. Highlight, underline or write your thoughts in the footer of the page itself. Also remember to write everything in a separate journal where you can be more detailed.
If you highlight certain ideas, you will redirect your attention to key elements of the text in future readings. Do this in each verse to make your studies easier. Summarize a few excerpts and make comments that force you to think carefully about the words on the paper
Step 2. Think out loud
As calm as your heart and the environment around you should be, you don't need to be afraid to verbalize your thoughts. This can help you process information and understand certain concepts more easily.
- You can think aloud in the form of a prayer, but also to help yourself deal with complex ideas.
- Many scholars consider the Bible to be the "living word" of God. For them, the text is active, which means the reader must interact with it. Don't be afraid to voice your doubts, admire the Lord's promises, or react sincerely to the words you read.
Step 3. Memorize the words
This is not the best strategy for those who have to meditate using several verses or even complete books, but it is useful when using paragraphs or short verses.
Repeat each passage or word 6-12 times to memorize the content. Add new terms to the repetition, until the passage is finished
Step 4. Paraphrase certain passages
Take time to write down the meanings of the passages in your own words. Be very detailed and think about everything you understand.
Paraphrase in your own words, but remember not to misrepresent the meaning of the original message. The intention is not to distort the truth, but to make it more accessible in the future
Step 5. Have more emotional reactions to what you read
Reflect well on the passage in question and try to discover God's intentions through his words, while trying to adapt to them to feel what He felt.
By trying to feel God's emotions, you will make the passage more "real," which can enrich your experience. Instead of just reading the words on paper, everything will gain much more meaning - as the Lord hopes it will
Step 6. Seek the blessing of meditation
Like secular meditation, reflecting on God's Word can bring calm to your life, but the benefits of the practice go beyond that. Seek guidance, comfort, joy and wisdom from divine understanding.
- As Psalm 1:1-2 says, "Blessed is the man who… delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on his law day and night."
- As you meditate on God's Word, you will better understand what the Lord wants from and for your life - so you will be able to guide you better. Read His promises and great deeds to feel comforted during difficult times and not forget the joy of everyday life. Furthermore, as you improve your understanding of this redemptive love of God, it will calm your life. Eventually, you will gain wisdom to face times of spiritual doubt and uncertainty.
Step 7. Put the words into practice in your life
When you understand the meaning of each passage, it's time to take action. Examine your own life and determine how you can apply your understanding of God's Word to your behaviors and perspectives to make the necessary changes without delay.
- Think of the words of James 2:17: "[…] faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself."
- Actions are signs of faith and understanding. Meditating on the Word of God is the ideal practice to work both aspects; thus, actions are a natural result.
- That said, don't think that it's enough to meditate once a half hour to understand all of God's Word for the rest of your life. It takes discipline; to do this, practice frequently, body and soul, until you reap all the benefits.