What’s the last habit that really “stuck” with you? Oh, I can tell you plenty that have NOT hung around for me – most of them involve exercise, housework, and carbohydrates—but every once in a while, something manages take root until it’s part of my routine and then, part of my life. One that may be well on its way is something I learned from my friend Jennifer Perez over the summer: making my phone lock-screen a place for images and phrases that help me meditate on scriptures from my devotional time.
I’ve had nature photos to remind me of the Good Shephard, quotes to bolster my courage, and Bible verses to tuck into my memory. When I reach for my phone—which is definitely a habit—I now see something that prompts me to meditate on God and His Word. In fact, Jennifer taught me a number of fresh ways to make God’s word “stick” through her devotional book She Laughs: A 40-Day Journey to a Heart Filled with Joy and Peace. This week she graciously guest-blogs on how scripture meditation can be a game changer in helping passages travel from head to heart. Thanks, Jennifer!
First of all, in the context of Christian faith, to meditate on God’s Word means to focus intently on it and allow it to sink deeply into your heart, mind, and soul. Whereas new age meditation seeks to empty the mind of conscious thought, meditating on God’s Word is the opposite. It’s a way of filling up your mind with Scripture by concentrating on it. Bible verses such as Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8, and Psalm 119:15, among others, all point to the importance of this kind of meditation, so I made it a key component of the She Laughs daily devotions. So often when we read the Bible, it’s easy for us to read a passage, close our Bibles, and then, just go about our days. By slowing down and spending more time meditating on God’s Word, our minds can be renewed (Romans 12:2) so that we become more like Christ and see the world the way that God sees it. Developing the art of meditation has also brought a tremendous increase of joy to my life so that like the woman in Proverbs 31:25, I can look to the future with confidence and even “laugh at the times to come.”
I’ve now realized that we can use our imaginations and creativity in the process, but meditation does not have to be complicated. When I was discipled several years ago, we worked on Scripture memory as well as rewriting Scripture in our own words (both of which are ways of meditating on Scripture). Honestly, though, it was not until more recently that I realized another habit of mine is also considered meditating on God’s Word: in my quiet times, I sometimes read a verse or passage multiple times, letting it slowly roll through my mind. Then I “chew on it” a bit throughout the day as the Lord calls it to memory. I thought meditation had to be a bit fancier, but that’s exactly what I’m doing!
When I wrote She Laughs, I consulted Donald S. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life to read more about meditation and specific meditation styles. His book helped further my understanding, and he offers many creative ideas for internalizing and acting upon the verses. However, you may also find, like I did, that you’ve already been using creativity to help make Scripture stick, and you should go with it! During a particularly difficult season for our family, for example, we worked together to memorize Psalm 18:1-2:
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
We used a different hand motion for each word/phrase that David uses to describe God. Those hand motions not only helped us memorize the verse but also helped us understand it better. Later, in She Laughs, I chose a new meditation exercise for this same passage, which brought it to life in a new way. This time I pulled out the art supplies to illustrate each word/phrase. As a strong visual learner, illustrating each of those phrases solidified the meaning in my mind. For instance, for “shield” I visualized and drew God as a shield like one that a medieval soldier held up as protection. That vibrant imagery brings much comfort to me when I need the reminder that God is my Defender.
Another verse and meditation exercise in She Laughs is Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” For this verse I chose to meditate on it by looking up the word steadfast and a few of its synonyms since steadfast is not a word we typically use. By switching out steadfast with synonyms like immovable and firm in belief, I was able to better grasp the full meaning of the verse. And then, once I understood the verse better, I could ask the Lord to help me remain steadfast in him and actually know what I was praying for. My hope is that my journey in approaching Bible study in ways that engage the senses and inspire creativity helps others to truly understand and apply what they read.
Did Jennifer’s ideas get your creative juices flowing? She has developed a truly interactive journaling devotional that may be the key to getting new habits like Scripture meditation to stick for you. Check out She Laughs: A 40-Day Journey to a Heart Filled with Joy and Peace on Amazon and let us know what you think! You can also find out more about Jennifer Perez at The Encouraging Mom Blog or read her last post from my blog called Debunking the Myths of Motherhood. You’re going to be blessed by what she has to say!