How to Meditate on Scripture


The Bible promises much to those who meditate on the Word of God. One of the greatest benefits promised to those who do so is gaining godly wisdom. God promised the following to Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). But success in the eyes of the world is different from success in the eyes of God. Living a successful life means living a life that is pleasing to God. Those who do so wisely choose to please God rather than the world. God’s leader, Joshua, was promised success in whatever he undertook if he would but meditate on God’s Word. The psalmist promises,

Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted by streams of water,

that yields its fruit in season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

The Value of Meditating on Scripture

The promise still stands today for God’s leaders who meditate on God’s Word. Much of my prayer time is spent meditating and praying over Scripture passages. Some verses relate to various character qualities of God. Other passages are personal promises pertinent to my life, family, and ministry. I come to know Him more intimately through reviewing these promises in my mind and heart as I pray. By prayerfully reflecting on His Word, we can learn to hear His voice speaking to us as He reveals Himself in new and deeper ways. We will also find many applications to our life and leadership as we do so. Relationship is built on the foundation of spending time together—communicating with each other. And so it is as we pray and meditate on God’s Word.

The Word of God is itself knowledge—an artifact of information alongside countless other artifacts available to us at any given moment. But the Bible offers facts about God, who is transcendent and without error. Through the voice of God, the Bible offers information about the world God created, including each of us. It is reliable, trustworthy, and infallible because it is God’s very Word to us. What is our attitude toward God’s Word? Do we approach it more as an academic text or as a life manual? Are our devotions a means for life-giving abiding in Christ, building deeper intimacy with Him? Is Scripture memory a means toward meditating on God Himself, seeking to think His thoughts and apply them to our life?

Some years ago, I was interacting with Dr. J. Robert Clinton about a personal goal to increasingly deepen my knowledge of the English Bible during my lifetime. After listening patiently and asking some questions, he offered, “Tom, I think you have an impossible goal.”

“Why would you say that?” I asked.

“Because,” he replied, “the Bible is not really one book; it is a library of sixty-six books. It’s too much to try to master in one lifetime.”

Your Core Scripture

He could see my disappointment, and he quickly added, “But there is a better way to develop the depth you desire. Instead of trying to become proficient in the entire Bible, focus your effort around a Core Set of Bible books. Begin with four books: one of the Gospels, Romans, Ephesians, and another book of your choosing—one that you spend a lot of time in, one that you’ve marked a lot in your personal Bible, or the book where you have to tape the pages back together due to wear.”

“Why Romans and Ephesians?” I asked.

“Because they explain Paul’s two revelations from God—the gospel and the body of Christ,” he said.

A Core Set, according to Dr. Clinton, is where we focus to build depth in our Bible knowledge. We have daily devotions in these books, we memorize verses from them, we read them repeatedly, we do personal study in them, and so on. The more influence and responsibility we have, the broader our influence, and therefore, the more books of the Bible we need in our Core Set.

Besides full Bible books, our Core Set may include select passages (e.g., Matthew 5–7, Romans 6–8, or 1 Corinthians 13), Bible characters (David, Esther, Mary, or Paul), or themes (leadership, leader development, disciple making, or holiness). Focusing in these ways will allow us to serve others from an overflow, an increasing depth of knowledge of God and the Bible.

Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees

Of course, while focusing on a smaller portion of the Bible, we need to stay familiar with the entire Scriptures. There is much profit in reading from the whole Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Don’t become so myopic that you miss great blessing. You wouldn’t want to get to heaven and not have an answer if Nahum asks you “So, how did you like my book?” You’d want a working familiarity with it so that you’re not embarrassed to admit that you never found the time to read or study it.

Your Core Set will be a dynamic list. As God gives you more influence and responsibility, you’ll want to add to it, and as you move through different seasons of life, your books and selected passages, characters, or themes may change accordingly. We can delete from our Core Set as well as add. We want to live and lead from an overflow of our walk with God. Concentrating in a Core Set has proved incredibly helpful for me and enabled me to deeply influence others as I serve others out of my focused study of Scripture.

Wise leaders fear God and pursue a growing intimacy with God through His Word. They lead from their growing knowledge of God, His character and ways, and the truth they discover in His Word.

You’ve been reading from Growing Kingdom Wisdom: The Essential Qualities of a Mature Christian Leader by Tom Yeakley