Contemplating, Musing, Meditating: How to Make the Scriptures Your Own

“I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search” (Ps. 77:6, NKJV).

Have you set any reading goals for 2018? I have heard from several friends who have. They are planning on reading dozens of books in the next twelve months. I also read an article suggesting that readers develop a habit of periodically setting aside chunks of time to read through entire books of the Bible in one sitting.

I have sincere admiration for all of that. However, I have bumped into a “difficulty.” Especially when it comes to reading both the Bible and books of spiritual teaching: I find it extremely hard to read them quickly.

This is not for a lack of a healthy attention span. In fact, the Lord has blessed me with the gift of hyper focus. I center in on what I am reading, and not even loud noises in the next room can easily deter me from my concentration. Rather, the issue is that I find so much depth in everything!

I read one verse, and I stare at it, fascinated. I read it again. I underline part of it. I write a margin note next to it. I read it again. I soak in whatever new nuance of meaning I am receiving in that moment from the Holy Spirit. I look up related Scriptures and cross reference them. I read the study notes at the bottom of the page. So by the time I’m ready to go to the next verse, ten minutes may have easily gone by. After an hour of sitting with my Bible, I may have only read five or six verses. But believe me, those five or six verses have become thoroughly integrated into the fiber of my being!

As a result, oftentimes I don’t even get a chapter of the Bible read in one quiet time. It just goes against the grain of my being to go on to the next verse without getting absolutely every last morsel of meaning out of each one.

The same thing happens when I read instructional Christian books. The more I love a book, the longer it takes me to read it. I used to feel badly sometimes that I didn’t get more reading done. Until I came across this quote by Charles Spurgeon:

“He is not the best student who reads the most books, but he who meditates the most upon them; he shall not learn most of divinity who hears the greatest number of sermons, but he who meditates the most devoutly upon what he does hear; nor shall he be so profound a scholar who takes down ponderous volumes one after the other, as he who, reading little by little, precept upon precept, and line upon line, digests what he learns, and assimilates each sentiment to his heart by meditation.”

I was so grateful to the Holy Spirit for providing that truth! It freed me to more fully enjoy my slow, meditative approach to reading and learning. Here are a few more verses about the wonderful art of meditating on God and Scripture:

  • “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways” (Ps. 119:15, NKJV).
  • “I remember… I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands” (Ps. 143:5, NKJV).
  • “Whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8, NKJV).
  • Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:15, NKJV).
  • “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water… and whatever he does shall prosper” (Ps. 1:2-3, NKJV).

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So… any reading goals for 2018? Wonderful! Here’s another one to think about, though: have you made any meditation goals?

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