Not long ago, I asked my pastor about the difference between meditation and prayer, as the two can be hard to distinguish. He replied, “In Scripture, God speaks to us. In prayer, we speak to him. What he says to us prompts what we say to him.” To meditate, then, is to think deeply about what God has said to us in Scripture and to prepare our minds and hearts for prayer. Scripture fuels meditation, and meditation fuels prayer.
But what exactly does meditation look like? The Psalms give at least five steps for meditating on God’s Word. We meditate to focus, understand, remember, worship, and apply.
1. To focus
"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways." (Ps. 119:15)
Whether we read our Bibles in the morning, over lunch, or before bed at night, our schedules and responsibilities tend to assail us with distractions. In fact, distractions are a tool Satan uses to pull our eyes off Christ and prevent us from hearing God in his Word.
Psalm 119 exhorts us to fix our eyes on God’s ways. As wayward humans with many pursuits and persons vying for our attention, meditation frees us to fix our eyes on Jesus and tune out distractions, even if only for five minutes. Focusing on what we’re reading in Scripture provides clarity when we pray.
Meditate to focus on how God is speaking to you through his Word.
2. To understand
"Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works." (Ps. 119:27)