What Does Meditation Mean in the Bible? How Can I Practice Biblical Meditation?

Meditation is a key component to a Christian’s growth. While meditation isn’t described in Scripture as many think of meditation today, which is greatly influenced by Eastern meditation methods, meditation in the Bible is associated with growth and prosperity.
April Motl
What Does Meditation Mean in the Bible? How Can I Practice Biblical Meditation?

Meditation is a key component to a Christian’s growth. While meditation isn’t described in Scripture as many think of meditation today, which is greatly influenced by Eastern meditation methods, meditation in the Bible is associated with growth and prosperity.

Definition of Meditate in the Bible

The following words are translated in Hebrew and Greek (respectively) into our English word for meditate:

Other words are also translated meditate, but they are derivatives of the above words.

Examples of Meditation in the Bible

The first person we see “meditating” in the Bible is Isaac. He was meditating (suach) in a field when the Lord brought his wife, Rebekah, to him (Genesis 24:63).

1. Isaac

Isaac was the son God promised to Abraham and Sarah. While we know a lot about Abraham’s amazing faith, Isaac had his own personal journey with God.

Isaac was what we would consider a little old to be a bachelor, but there he was, waiting on the Lord’s provision for a wife. He was in the midst of grieving the death of his mother, meditating and waiting when God brought Rebekah to him. Most Bible scholars consider him to be prayerfully processing life with God during this time.

Scripture records that he took Rebekah as his wife, loved her all his days, and was comforted after his mother’s death. In a culture of polygamy, Isaac loved only Rebekah. When the two of them shared anniversary after anniversary with no children, Isaac prayed, and the Lord heard his prayer and blessed them with twins.

Meditation and prayer were intricately woven into Isaac’s life, even shaping the direction of his family.

The next instance of meditating we see in Scripture occurs in the book of Joshua:

2. Joshua

After Moses died, the Lord gave instructions to Joshua, Moses’ aid. One instruction was to meditate on the “Book of the Law.”

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate [hagah] on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8)

The Psalms echo this admonition from the Book of Joshua:

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates [hagah] day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:2-3)

In these two examples, meditating on God’s word results in doing “all that is written in it,” “yield[ing] fruit” and prospering.

Whether our business is blessed because we carry it out with godly principles or our souls are wrapped in the rich peace of Christ, without meditating on Scripture, we can be sure we will miss opportunities to prosper in our walks with God. Because as Christians, there is no greater prosperity for us than to know the Lord. Meditating on Scripture is a way to experiencing Him!

3. David

In Psalm 143, David meditated on his past experiences with God when his current experience was overwhelming.

“Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart is appalled within me. I remember the days of old; I meditate [hagah] on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.” (Psalm 143:4-5)

While the passage doesn’t directly mention prosperity or success, we can see in David’s life that intentionally setting his heart and mind on God anchored and steadied him in his responses to life.

Throughout the Psalms we see David’s example of directing his thoughts to Scripture and to his past experiences with God when life became difficult.

Practicing Biblical Meditation

Deliberately direct your thoughts to God’s word and remember what He’s done in the past.

All of us meditate on something throughout the day; we just may or may not do it with intention. When we are tempted to let our thoughts rule us, we can practice biblical meditation by being deliberate with our thoughts and direct them on the things of the Lord. Instead of getting lost in pain, we can set our minds on the promises of God.

The New Testament gives numerous instructions on how to direct our thoughts, but the word meditate is not often used.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4)

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 6:6-8)

This example from 1 Timothy is translated “meditate” in the King James Version (and the NKJV) but is translated “take pains” in the New American Standard.

“Meditate [meletaō] on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” (1 Timothy 4:15 NKJV)

Again, progress (or growth) is indicated as a result of meditating on the ways of God. Old and New Testaments remind us that where we set our thoughts greatly impact the fruitfulness of our lives.

Here are other tips to help you meditate on God’s word.

1. Start and end your day with the Word.

If we read the Word in the morning, it’s easy for it to slip out of our thoughts over the course of the day. Schedules and demands squeeze those Bible verses from us. If this is an issue you face, as you crawl into bed at the end of the day, ask yourself what you read in the Bible that morning.

2. Do something with the Word.

But if we do something with what we read, it helps keep God’s word at the forefront of our thoughts. Essentially, whether you do correlative study with a Bible passage, make a craft with verses, or make a song from a verse, doing something with the words helps you hold on to them. And if you can remember them, then you can meditate on them.

3. Talk about God’s word.

If we are regularly talking about God’s word, we will meditate on God’s word. And if we are talking and thinking about God’s word, we will be more able to obey God’s word. And if we are obeying God’s word, our lives are more positioned for His blessings!

Whether you start diligently studying Scripture using word tools, stick post-it notes with Bible verses all over your house, or memorize whole chapters, get your mind soaked with Scripture! You will be blessed when you do!

April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April hereand here.

Photo Credit: Getty/digitalskillet


Originally published June 24, 2019.