How to Memorize and Meditate
exchanging our thoughts for God’s thoughts, part 3 of 3
In the same way, working slowly through a passage and pondering it as we memorize helps prepare us for meditation, and meditating on the whole counsel of God keeps us balanced in our daily lives.
Meditation Begins With Memorization
There are many programs and plans for implementing the discipline of memorization. Personally, I write the verses I am memorizing on 3 by 5 index cards, with 2–3 verses written in clear handwriting on each card. This method allows me tolearn the passage in smaller pieces, instead of being overwhelmed by a large portion of Scripture. I keep the cards in order and review the previous verses as needed. I simply repeat the lines over and over until they automatically come out of my mouth without my thinking about what comes next.
It is important for us to memorize large sections of Scripture. In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord laments that our thoughts and ways are not His thoughts. Engrafting large sections of Scripture helps us follow God’s thought patterns rather than our own. In that way we receive the full counsel of God, which keeps us from selecting only what we want, instead of what we need.
How to Meditate
Once the passage is in our minds, the next step is to implant the Word in our hearts. While one may agree with Scripture, one often does not believe Scripture. What we truly believe in our heart will be acted out in our lives. The step of going from agreeing with the Word in our minds to believing the Word in our hearts is accomplished through meditation.
Biblical meditation is speaking the memorized words of Scripture over and over to oneself and to God. It is speaking those words in the first person, and speaking those words in prayer to God. Meditation is rolling every word around in our minds,thinking of its meaning, its direction, its application to us, how it addresses our lives. It is emphasizing each word and phrase in a sentence and pointing its message at our lives and our souls.
Seek the Holy Spirit’s Guidance
The most essential element of effective meditation is asking God to send His Holy Spirit to teach us. In John 14:15–16 and 26, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). The promise and the power are there for us—but we must ask for it. (See Luke 11:13.)
The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and when we have questions, we should ask Him! This inquisitiveness is a normal part of any relationship. It is good and it is right to ask questions such as “Why did You say that, Lord?” and “How does this work?” God invites our questions by hiding treasure in His Word and by keeping His ways and intimacy for those that will seek to know Him by His Word.
Listen and Obey
James 1 tells of a person who merely hears the Word, forgets it, and remains unchanged by what he heard. God wants us to listen to His Word, to keep it always in our lives, and to be changed by it. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments” (Proverbs 3:1, EVS).
Jesus gives us this admonition: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24–27).
The Goal of Meditation
The purpose of meditation is intimacy with God, not gaining insights. Insights will come, but Jesus does not grant the great promises of His kingdom to those who have the most Scriptural knowledge. He grants them to those who know Him. Knowing God is the point of our original creation. God reveals Himself to all through creation (see Romans 1:20), but He is in secret (see Matthew 6:6) and is seen by the pure in heart (see Matthew 5:8). He reveals Himself to those who keep His commandments (see John 14:21).
Meditation on God’s Word washes our minds of the imaginations and vain philosophies that have taken us captive by filling our minds and dictating our actions. “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
In contrast to the brainwashing that imprisons one to a cult or vain philosophy, the cleansing of the mind through meditation leaves the mind transparently clean. Rather than building a mental imprisonment, those who meditate on Scripture find themselves truly free. “If ye continue [stay, abide] in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).
Dr. Mike Davis
Dr. Mike Davis is an experienced teacher and counselor. As the director of the International Ministerial Institute in Burnet, Texas, he disciples young men who are preparing for involvement in full-time Christian ministry.