Types of Meditation you can choose from.
- Devotional Reading (also called Quiet Time or personal daily devotion)
- Visualization Reading [This technique is best used for meditating on the scenes of any specific Bible story or the entire story itself. It is especially good for the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry. You could use this to meditate on the stories of the Old Testament, the book of Acts. You can even put yourself in Pauls shoes as he writes to the Corinthians or as he writes to Timothy from a prison cell. Or you can put yourself in Peter’s shoes as he preaches on Pentecost.
You visualize or imagine the scene of the story in your mind. Put yourself in the story1) As an observer (Simply listen in)
2) As an active participant (Successively take up each of the characters and imagine being them, one at at time, even the animals).
In both cases (either as observer or active participant), use the 5 senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch) to experience the scene.
What would you be 1) Thinking about 2) Saying 3) Feeling 4) Doing as each character that you take up in the story. Think of the physiologic vital signs (HR, RR, T, BP, Pain). Pay attention to what Jesus says and what he does if you are using this for one of the gospel accounts. If not, pay attention to what each character says and does. Then use PRECEPTS mnemonic. George Muller, a man of faith and prayer who read the Bible about 200 times in his life time with about half of those times on his knees noticed that his meditation always led him to prayer. And that is so true and that has been our experience. As we meditate, we take in God’s word–God speaks to us. The natural thing is for us to speak back to God and we do so in prayer.
Two things will help make your Visualization Reading more profitable: 1) Knowledge of the historical setting and backgrounds in which the story is set. Knowing the landscape and geography will also help make your Bible study very rich. Many of the tools that I have discussed for Bible Study will give you this information especially the Bible Atlas and Bible Handbook. 2) The second thing that will improve the profitability of your visualization reading is practice and experience. The more you use this kind of imaginative reading, the more you will become better. You become an actor and actress that takes up a character and just becomes that character and not merely trying to be the character. That comes with practice.
I said above that you should take up the characters even of animals. I heard a preacher preach a message on Jesus’ triumphal entry found in Mark 11:1-11 that I could easily tell that he used this visualization technique to study the passage from the point of view of the colt. That message was powerful and really blessed me. This was before I learned the method of visualization reading. Then I could tell he used it. Try using the method on that passage and see what you will come up with. Be the colt that was tied up and then Jesus sent someone to come and set you lose and not only that but bring you so that the King of Kings can ride on you into his city on his big and glorious day. Palm fronts and people’s clothes are spread out for the master to pass on, but guess who walks on them? You, yes you the colt! You are carrying the master. Everybody clears the way for you as you come into the city like no ordinary colt. Yet you were tied up just a few hours before! That is a picture of us who were tied up in our sins until Jesus came and set us free for his use. Now like the colt, we carry Jesus in our hearts. Now like the colt, when people want to bless Jesus, they give us food to eat or water to drink because he says in Matthew 25 that what you do for the least of these, you do for him! See what you come up with.
- Inductive Bible Reading: Observation ( 5 Ws, 1 H), Interpretation, Application. See chapter on Inductive Bible Study. The word of God is living and active. So with this method, you interrogate the text of the Bible and ask it many questions. You even ask to know why God put a particular passage in the exact location where he put it. Why didn’t God say what he is saying in that passage in another chapter, in another book or even in another Testament altogether.
Observe the text and find out what information is in it: places, people, landmarks, evens, the arguments or discussions going on etc. Then you interpret the text: What do all those things mean? Then you apply the text to your situation. What difference does that passage make to your life?
- Dissection or Emphasis Reading: This method is one of my favorites. You do it with a verse or short passage–one or two lines at the most. I keep it to less than 20 words. So if each line of my Bible has about 10 words, then I will take one or two lines. One line alone would actually be good if the line is a complete sentence that is suitable for meditation. You memorize the verse or passage and then close your eyes and begin to go through it in your head,saying the line out slowly and laying emphasis on each word. Sometimes, I will stop and preach to myself and breakdown what each word means so that I gain a fuller understanding. By the time you read the entire sentence through laying emphasis on a single word with each reading, stopping and defining the words that can be defined in context with the passage, then you will realize how juicy to the soul each passage can really be.
For example, if I were to meditating on Mark 9:23 I would have something like this:
EVERYTHING is possible for him who believes.
Everything IS possible for him who believes.
Everything is POSSIBLE for him who believes.
Everything is possible FOR him who believes.
Everything is possible for HIM who believes.
Everything is possible for him WHO believes.
Everything is possible for him who BELIEVES
Note that in Bible Study or meditation, every dot in the Bible is important. Even the tense is very important. For example, the “is” in that verse is important. It is the present tense, not the pass. It doesn’t say everything was possible… It says it is today and tomorrow and for ever. Check out Mark 12:18-27 where Jesus quotes a verse from the Old Testament and uses the present tense to prove to the Sadducees that God is the God of the living, and not a God of the dead. He quotes verse 26 “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” And his prove is that God said “I am…”, not I was… That’s it. That was Jesus. So every tense counts and when you think about it, gives your passage great meaning.
As you go through reading the phrase through each time but focusing on the word, you stop and define the word in context with the passage. You think about that definition as you read the line through. This just adds so much flavor and juice to the revelation you get out.
- Topical Meditation: With this type of meditation, you choose a topic such as the: the providence of God, the wisdom of God, the character of God, the person of Jesus Christ, the glory of God, the grace of God etc.
With this type of meditation, you need to pull up the scriptures that talk about these topics to be able to mediate on those passages. A way to do that is to use a topical Bible or A concordance. If you don’t have a hard copy but have access to the internet, you will be able to find one on the internet.
- Personalize: Personalizing is fairly easy and straight forward. You put your name in the place of any personal nouns or pronouns in the verse. E.g. you can personalize Mark 9:23 above as “Every thing is possible for John Smith if he believes” Here, you put your name in place of John Smith. That makes the scripture come alive in a personal way. Caution: This method must be used carefully. Only use it after you have first interpreted the word of God. Notice that all scriptures were written for our benefit but they were not written directly to us. So interpret first and only personalize when you see that the scripture applies to you.
- Paraphrase: With paraphrase, you say the scriptures in another way. There are many translations of the Bible. There are at least 200 hundred translations of the Bible. And each of them says things a little differently but they still carry the same meaning, most of the time. That should be a clue. Don’t get stuck with one version of the Bible to the point where you think that translation is divine. Take a look at other translations every now and then. Looking at other translations is not paraphrasing. But I like to do that when I’m not sure how to paraphrase. But paraphrasing really means that you put the scriptures in your own words. You will remember something in your own words or vocabulary much better than you would in any other person’s vocabulary because we learn by association. Also, words are the vehicles through which we think. We think with our words! Meditating will be much easier when you do it in your own words than when you do it in the translators words. So paraphrasing is a great method to meditate on God’s word. If you want to check out Bibles that are actually paraphrases, there are two common ones, The Living Bible and the Message Bible.
- Meditate on the Prayers in the Bible: With this type of meditation, you simply search for a few of the hundreds of prayers that are found in both the New Testament and Old Testament and spend time meditating on them. Just thinking over them. I like to use the Dissection or Emphasis method on them and just savor the prayers. By doing that, I make God’s words to become my own and then I pray them back to God. Sometimes I personalize and paraphrase the prayer .
- Meditate on Thanks Giving Passages in the Bible: The Psalms and other portions of the Bible are replete with passages on thanksgiving. Spend some time and select many of those passages and sometimes spend time meditating on those portions and just thanking God.
- Meditate on the Character of Jesus. You may have noticed that the last three types of meditations can be ranked as topical meditations. They are set apart here because of their significant to building faith.