I love the Hebrew word for meditate. Hagah means to moan, growl, utter, muse, mutter, meditate, devise, plot or speak. I’m not quite sure how growling and moaning fit in, but they do make for an interesting definition. Regardless, the Hebrew concept of meditation is rather different than how we envision it.
We tend to think of meditation on Scripture as a strictly cerebral process. We sit quietly, breathe deeply and try to think good thoughts or no thoughts at all. While this can have its place, the type of mediation the Bible talks about, and what I want to advocate here, is much more involved.
Meditation, as described in the Psalms, is a verbal process of speaking, muttering under your breathe and singing. It can (and does!) feel a little silly at first. I still check to make sure no one is home before I start my impromptu singing, but I’m getting less self-conscious, which is the whole point of meditation – to become less self-conscious and more God-conscious.
What meditation looks like for me may be different than it looks like for you. That is alright, but I do encourage you to try out what I outline here because it is the closest I can get to the original meaning of the Hebrew.
The Psalms are a wonderful place to practice meditation – this is what they were written for. They are songs and poetry that David wrote to God and are a wealth of insight into God’s character and David’s relationship with God. I’m going to outline what a brief mediation on Psalm 23 could look like. Again, I encourage you to sing the Scripture to yourself, even if it is monotone.
(Begin by singing the verse as written)
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”
(Asking ‘what does this mean’ is a great tool for meditation. For instance, what does it mean that God is our Shepherd? Sing out your thoughts or answers. Phrase it differently.)
“God is my perfect Leader. I will never be in want.”
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.”
“He surrounds me with every good thing. He lets me rest in His goodness. He lets me drink deeply and be satisfied. He washes me and makes me clean.”
In essence, all you try to do with meditation is to view the passage from as many angles as you can. We use the Word to draw us deeper into worship. We allow Holy Spirit to reveal the many layers of the scriptures to us. If a particular phrase or revelation strikes us, we can camp on it, repeating it to ourselves, thinking about it, drawing it – whatever helps you connect and engage.
Again, this can seem silly and can make us very self-conscious, but I encourage you to fight through. This was David’s primary way of connecting with God and God called him “a man after my own heart.” David’s sing-song mediations became the book of Psalms which not only made the Bible, but have inspired countless believers in their own pursuit of God. It is all about heart connect and that is what Biblical meditation strives to do. So enjoy the opportunity to connect with God in a new way and don’t get too wrapped up in “doing it right.” God will lead you to do exactly what He wants you to do, you can’t do it wrong.
P.S. If reading this still doesn’t make a lot of sense, I encourage you to check out the International House of Prayer’s webstream. Check their archives and find a “Worship with the Word” set – this is biblical style mediation in action. Thanks for reading.