Summary: Bible reading and meditation are daily spiritual disciplines of Jesus’ disciple. You meet Jesus through Bible reading and solidify your reading through Christian meditation. I describe both disciplines and how to practice them.
In my last post, I talked about developing the regular discipline of fasting. In this post, we talk about taking in the Bible through reading and meditation.
I cherish reading my Bible every day. But it didn’t begin that way. When I first started reading the Bible, I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what to read first. I found some books and areas of Scripture more exciting, interesting, and enjoyable than others.
We need to talk about reading your Bible and meditating on what you read. Along with prayer, Bible reading is a lifeline from Jesus to you as His disciple. You will get your greatest spiritual formation from reading God’s Word.
But I must give some instruction on how to read God’s Word and meditate. Since these will be regular disciplines for you, you must understand why we need to practice these disciplines, how to do them, and the benefits of these practices. They should never become treachery for you.
Taking in God’s Word comes in a number of ways. You can read it, listen to it, meditate on it, and study it. We will discuss all these disciplines. But let’s take each of these disciplines one at a time, beginning with Bible reading and meditation. Let’s dive in!
Bible Reading Daily
Reading your Bible is essential as Jesus’ disciple. Without God’s Word daily speaking interior life, you will not be prepared for the challenges of living for Jesus. The Bible is central to your growth. It gives you everything you need to be an effective disciple of Jesus.
You need to read God’s Word daily. I hesitate to give you a directive on one you should read the Bible, but it must be every day. Without a daily dose of God’s Word, you will run into situations without knowing what to do.
Every day we make decisions, act on those decisions, think and believe based on the voices we listen to, and speak from our hearts. If God’s Word is not constantly in us, we will make bad decisions, take the wrong roads and act the wrong ways, think the wrong things, and speak the wrong words.
The Bible is not the only thing we need in our lives daily, but it is the chief thing. The best way I can impress on you the absolute importance of God’s Word in your life every day is to talk about its benefits to every disciple of Jesus. I want to give you some reasons and benefits of daily reading God’s Word below.
Bible Reading to Meet with Jesus
Your primary goal in reading the Bible is to meet with Jesus. As you read the Bible, Jesus speaks to you through His Holy Spirit. The words you find in the Bible apply to you as you walk with Jesus.
As you read Scripture, the Holy Spirit illuminates God’s Word to you. This means He turns the light of Scripture on your life. He tells you what to you and it is up to you to obey Him. The Holy Spirit applies the words you read to your life.
God’s Word calls you to obedience, to conform to Christ through obedience to what you read. You will always find God speaking to you and forming you through His Word, so you must read the Bible daily.
Bible Reading to Hear God’s Voice
When you read God’s Word, you hear God’s voice. Jesus will train you to hear His voice as His follower (John 10:27). This is why we call it “God’s Word.” God speaks to us and illuminates His will for our lives, His commandments and instruction for us, and His expectations and high standards for us to follow.
Reading the Bible is the first step into our relationship with Jesus. As we read the Bible, we hear God has to say to us through the words written there. We listen to Jesus’ voice and the Bible calls us to obey the words we read.
We don’t only hear God’s voice through His written Word. We hear the words of Jesus, the living Word. Hearing God’s voice is a daily practice that builds our spiritual leaders to listen to and obey God.
So, reading God’s Word is the chief means for God to work in our lives. It’s like our command center. I can guarantee that we will hear God’s voice without daily being in the Bible, but I can guarantee you won’t hear God’s voice if you don’t read your Bible regularly.
Bible Reading for Wisdom
When we read the Bible, we receive heavenly wisdom from Jesus. Some of God’s wisdom can be found in books like Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms. These are not the only books of wisdom, for in the New Testament we see James as wisdom.
But the words of Jesus we cherish as God’s wisdom for us. Wisdom is practical. Through wisdom literature, God gives us direction and teaches us how to live to please Him. Wisdom applies to the situations in our lives.
God’s wisdom is different than the world’s wisdom. God teaches us through wisdom as we make decisions and act on them. God’s wisdom comes from Him while the world’s wisdom comes from the world. It is selfish and self-centered. It does not consider pleasing God.
So, we must listen to God’s voice so we have the chief source of God’s wisdom in front of us every day. We will make decisions that change our lives for God’s got the best. We make choices that please Him.
Our decisions will be God honoring decisions from which will flow our actions. God will help us think good thoughts (Philippians 4:8). From our thoughts flow our actions. Wisdom gives us the tools to think right, decide right, and act right.
Bible Reading for Godliness and Growth
We want to please God in everything we do, from our thoughts to our actions. We read God’s word to grow in godliness, and grow in our relationship with Him. The Bible tells us godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
Through God’s Word, He gives you everything you need to become a successful disciple. The Word of God instructs you in God’s ways, corrects you when you do not take godly paths, encourages you in your faith and devotion to Him, and trains you to live a righteous life that glorifies Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
You grow in godliness and glorify Him by becoming a complete disciple, perfect through holiness, obedience, surrender, and sacrifice. Jesus equips you to serve Him and help others grow in Him as you follow Him. He equips you for every good work you will do for His name’s sake. He will make you a witness to others of His expectations and love.
How to Read God’s Word
You can choose when you read God’s Word every day. Most people find the beginning of the day helpful because it sets your mind and attitude on Christ before you face the trials of your day. Others find reading God’s Word before they go to bed at night most helpful.
Reading at night allows you to meditate on God’s word before you go to sleep. You can also read the Bible in the middle of the day for a quick pick me up. No matter when you read it, Jesus speaks to you and you hear His voice with practice (John 10:27).
When you read, look for principles in God’s Word that apply to your life. This is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through God’s Word. Listen and obey His voice. Read no more than three chapters a day. Taking in too much information at one time is counterproductive.
You want to be able to meditate on what you read. One way to do this is to journal what you read, what the Spirit speaks to you as you read, and your thoughts. Journal your prayers so you can remember and apply God’s Word to your life.
Along with daily Bible reading, you should meditate on what you read to get it deep within your spirit and retain it for later use. Many Christians are leery of meditation because they equate it with Eastern meditation.
But I must make one chief distinction about the difference between Christian and Eastern meditation. In Eastern meditation, a person empties his or her mind of everything and then listens to the inner voice heard.
In Christian meditation, we focus our thoughts and heart on God’s Word, listen, and obey God’s voice. In Eastern meditation, you have no idea who you are listening to because you have emptied yourself. In Christian meditation, you are listening to God’s voice through the Holy Spirit. In Eastern meditation, you empty yourself. In Christian meditation, you fill yourself with God’s thoughts.
Christian meditation purposes to listen to God’s voice through His Word, internalize it, and apply it to life. Through the biblical practice of meditation we learn God’s Word and keep it in our spirits. We can recall it later and apply it to our situation.
How to Meditate
The biblical word for “meditate” in the Bible means to “delight in His law” (Psalm 1:2) by muttering it to yourself, mulling it over through repetition, and speaking and proclaiming it to yourself.
One way to meditate is to replace the pronouns to, “ I, me, and my,” personalizing the text to apply it to your character and situation. By personalizing the text, you are internalizing God’s promises and applying them to yourself.
Another way to meditate is to repeat the text to yourself until you have mastered it, almost memorizing it. Allow it to speak to your soul, encourage you, and build you up in the faith. Speak the Scripture to your situation. Speak applicable passages against the devil.
If you don’t already read Scripture daily, look for Bible reading plans and immediately apply them to your daily devotions. Purpose in your heart to read and listen to God’s voice. Record your thoughts and observations in a journal. Include meditation as a regular practice when you read Scripture.
Now that we have looked at how to read God’s Word and meditate on it regularly, let me take a break to talk about Bible versions, for you will need a good one as you read the Bible, meditate, and study God’s Word.