The benefit of biblical meditation


I find I can read lists like yesterday’s on the significance of adoption without letting what I’ve read sink in.

Thomas Watson writes in his exposition of the Beatitudes

There are many truths swim in the brain, which do not sink into the heart, and those do us no good. Chew the cud. Let a Christian think seriously with himself, there is a blessedness feasible and I am capable of enjoying it, if I do not lay bars in the way and block up my own happiness. Though I see within nothing but guilt, and without nothing but curses, yet there is a blessedness to be had, and to be had for me too in the use of means.

Thanks to David Field, my ethics and doctrine lecturer at Oak Hill, for introducing me to what Thomas Watson implies by “the use of means”. David lectured on Puritan meditation basing the lecture on Joel R. Beeke’s work The Puritan Practice of Meditation (pdf file).

Here is a summary of Beeke’s findings:
Preparation for meditation:
1. Clear your heart from things of this world
2. Have your heart cleansed from the guilt and pollution of sin through confession
3. Approach the task of meditation with utmost seriousness. Be aware of is a weightiness, excellence and potential
4. Find a quiet place and adopt a reverent posture

The process of meditation
1. Ask the Holy Spirit for assistance
2. Select a word or point from scripture or from the previous Sunday sermon
3. Fix your thoughts on the subject and recall to mind what you already know about it from other sources
4. Do not constrain your meditation by the use of method or logic, let your imagination, mind, heart and whole being focus on the subject
5. Stay focused, avoid mental drift or distractions
6. Stir up affections such as love, desire, hope, courage, zeal, joy
7. In meditation arouse your soul to duty and comfort
8. Examine your own spiritual condition. How well does your spiritual life meet the conditions of the word upon which you meditate?
9. Make resolutions
10. Give thanks to God
11. Don’t shift too quickly into things of this world

And we should do it lots. I need to remind myself again to make more time for meditation. Beeke quotes William Bates who wrote,

If the bird leaves her nest for a long space, the eggs chill and are not fit for production; but where there is a constant incubation, then they bring forth: so when we leave religious duties for a long space, our affections chill, and grow cold; and are not fit to produce holiness, and comfort to our souls.

Suitable subjects for meditation include:
The 12 rare privileges of the children of God
25 benefits of faith union with Christ

Joel R. Beeke’s book Puritan Reformed Spirituality contains the chapter on meditation. The book is a great read as Beeke synthesises reformed history, biography, theology and practice.

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One Response to The benefit of biblical meditation

  1. Ros says:

    Thanks for this reminder, Neil. I feel like I need to take that Puritans course again.

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