What Is Bible Meditation?

Malcolm Tatum

Considered a form of Christian meditation, Bible meditation is a type of spiritual discipline that incorporates the use of the Bible into the process of reflection and meditation. While exact approaches will vary, the process normally involves a combination of reading selected verses and spending some time withdrawn from other activities to reflect, ponder, and meditate on the meaning of those verses and the relevance of the passages to the reader. Christians all along the spectrum from fundamentalist to progressive or liberal make use of this form of spiritual meditation.

An individual may begin bible meditation by reading passages from the Old Testament.
An individual may begin bible meditation by reading passages from the Old Testament.

One common approach to Bible meditation is to set aside a time and place that will allow the individual to enter into a period of quite contemplation, without being distracted by other people or events. This time may be early in the morning before beginning the day’s activities, or at the end of the day when there is little chance of being interrupted. The idea is to have a span of time that allows for focusing solely on the Bible passages selected for the meditation time, with the expectation of receiving some amount of inspiration that will ultimately benefit the reader.

Bible meditation is generally opened with prayer.
Bible meditation is generally opened with prayer.

There are differences of opinion on exactly how to go about the actual practice of Bible meditation. Some proponents hold that the most effective meditation comes about when the individual is able to clear his or her mind of all distractions, including distracting thoughts, and make room for God to provide counsel and instruction by enlightening the scripture passages that are planned for reading during the session. Others hold that rather than selecting scripture passages in advance, the meditation should begin by retiring to a quiet place, opening a Bible to whatever page the individual is led to read, and then commence reading, trusting that the presence of the Holy Spirit will provide enlightenment along the way.

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While methods vary, most forms of Bible meditation will normally include a period of reflection in which the reader sets aside time to meditate on the passages he or she felt led to read. This period of reflection may last for an extended period of time or for only a short while, based on any time constraints present or any sense on the part of the reader that the meditation is over for the present time. It is not unusual for this type of meditation to be opened and closed with prayer, with the opening prayer inviting God to be present and asking for help in making the time fruitful in terms of gaining enlightenment and counsel. Typically, the closing prayer will include thankfulness for the period and for any insights, counsel, or comfort that is gained from the session.

Just as there are different ways to go about a Bible meditation period, the setting can also vary. Some prefer a secluded setting, such as solitary room in the home, while others find that being in a park or a forest is helpful. In some Christian faiths, a portion of the weekly worship service is set aside for silent meditation that may open with Bible readings and be followed by a period of silent meditation. With this practice, finding the setting that seems to resonate with the individual is often the best approach rather than attempting to make the process too rigid and confining.

Christians of all stripes can practice Bible meditation. This sort of discipline is found with such diverse members of the Christian family as Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, Evangelical Christians, and Christian fundamentalists. Non-traditional Christian denominations such as Latter-day Saints and Christian Scientists also engage in meditating based on the reading of scripture passages. Even faiths that tend to see themselves as post-Christian in nature, such as Unitarian Universalists, may choose to meditate on a Bible passage and seek to glean additional understanding and insights.

Bible meditation typically sets aside time for reflection.
Bible meditation typically sets aside time for reflection.

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