When many of us think of meditation we associate it with the ancient Eastern practices that have gone mainstream in our Western culture. However, I believe there is a clear case for biblical meditation. Where meditation should in fact be central to the life of the believer and we see this so clearly throughout scripture.
In Joshua 1:8 God instructs Joshua to “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Then again in Psalm 1:2 we are told that blessed is the one “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
Continuing in Psalm 104:34 we see the psalmist express, “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.”
So what does the root of the word “meditation” mean in its original Hebrew biblical context?
הָגָה or hagah in Joshua 1:8 (used 24 times in the Bible).
יֶהְגֶּ֗ה or yeh-geh in Psalm 1:2 (used 9 times in the Bible).
שִׂ֫יחַ or śı̂yach in Psalm 104:34 (used 14 times in the Bible).
And we see that the definitions of these uses of the word meditation falls under the acts of musing, pondering, speaking, declaring, uttering, to imagine, to put forth thought.
It is the intentional inward dialogue of our thoughts and the outward declaration of our heart stance toward God. And it all comes down to being centered on God’s truth. It’s letting the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:23). It’s letting His Word be an anchor to our anxious hearts.
So how can we make biblical meditation a regular practice in our lives that helps us rein in the grips on anxiety? Here are 6 ways to stay rooted that I also believe make a great morning routine to start your day in the right state of mind.
Get in sync with an audio bible reading.
I remember being a girl and my dad popping tapes into the cassette player listening to a recording of an older man reading through each book of the Bible. He’d play it on the car ride to school or beside the bed at night. Of course, then you had to flip it and pop in a different tape when each of them ran out (yeah, I took it all the way back). But I’ll never forget the peace that it brought to our car and our house. Today we have the luxury of bible app audio readings such as YouVersion and StreetLights which I highly recommend.
Romans 10:17 mentions that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Because let’s admit it, there are times when we have been so wrecked by anxiety that it’s hard to get a glimpse of faith in the moment. So maybe some days your faith needs to come from hearing the hope of the word being filtered back into your soul. I suggeset putting on the psalms, whether it be while you’re getting ready in the morning or as you drift to sleep at night. Let this be your staple meditation.
If you haven’t checked it out already, there is a biblical meditation app called Abide that opens with a daily scripture and walks you through meditative guides that help re-center your thoughts on biblical truths. You can check it out here.
This is their app description:
Pick an anchor verse/affirmation for the day.
When I was working a 10-hour office job in Dallas I quickly learned how important it would become to set an intention that would anchor me through long and exhausting days. Every morning I would pick a new Bible verse, slap it on the frame of my computer with a sticky note and meditate on that verse throughout the day. It was also a tool I used to help memorize scripture over time.
You may find it helpful for you to have a foundational verse for each day that you stick somewhere in sight and draw back to throughout the day. Or at the beginning of each day you set an intention by speaking biblical affirmations over yourself.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
“I have been called to peace.” Colossians 3:15
“I will let all that I am wait quietly before the God, for my hope is in Him.” Psalm 62:5
Find your meditative affirmations or anchor verses to start off the day.
Practice the pause.
“Be still and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46:10
When you’re having a rough and stressful day, possibly at work, and you feel overwhelmed and out of control, this is the perfect time to give yourself permission to practice the pause. That means before you overthink and before you worry excessively, you stop. Briefly remove yourself from your current environment if you can, such as taking a step outside or into a quiet hallway. And you pause. You still yourself. You breathe deeply and hush your body. And you take this moment to re-surrender your day, your thoughts and attitudes to God. This is when you bring those affirmations and that anchoring verse back to mind.
Some of us need to get in the habit of a mid-day surrender. It’s okay to take these. It’s okay to let yourself start over again.
Stretch and give thanks.
I always love this idea because I think there’s something powerful about a mind and body soul-flow. Whether it be dancing before the Lord like David did (2 Samuel 6:14), raising our hands in praise or humbly bowing and stretching them out before us- there’s something to be said about the synergy of moving our bodies.
In one study tried with Spanish workers it was found that “the implementation of a short program of stretching exercises in the work place was effective for reducing levels of anxiety, bodily pain and exhaustion, and for raising levels of vitality, mental health, general health and flexibility”( Montero-Marín J, Asún S, Estrada-Marcén N, Romero R, Asún R.)  .
It’s known that people with chronic anxiety tend to clench their jaw and tighten their muscles that can bring about some compiled tension. What a wonderful idea it would be to set aside a time, possibly in the morning, just to engage in some stretching exercises. And when you’re doing this, while focusing on the flow of your body and breath, you also give thanks to God for your body, for the day He’s made, and continue to either mentally or verbally give thanks or recite scripture. This morning routine has been a game changer for how I enter my day.
Set aside a moment for reflection.
Whether it be through journaling or a moment of silent reflection, I think it’s important to have a moment after Bible reading to digest what you’ve just read. For you that may mean reading smaller chunks at a time to really unpack these verses and let them sink in. This is the “pondering and musing” of the translations mentioned earlier. Consider having a set of questions you meditate on each day after your reading such as:
- What was the main theme or takeaway from these verses?
- What did this passage teach me about who God is?
- What did I learn from this that I may have missed before?
- How can I apply this to my life today?
I also have Bible study guides that could provide a helpful aid!
Anxiety creates a tunnel vision that only envisions the worst and desperately grasps for a control we soon find to be limited. By taking the time to pause and reflect, we can expand our gaze upward to God’s sovereignty and the bigger picture He has in place for us.
How do you make a practice of meditating with God’s Word? Sharing is caring! Let’s chat about it in the comments below!