Meditating on God's Word - Reading and Prayer

This article is part of the ongoing series Meditating on God's Word. How should you fill your mind with God’s Word? What are the ways in which we should “let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly?” If you are going to become a student and lover of God’s Word and the God of the Word, then you need to plan to answer some specific questions. What are you going to read and pray through in the Word? What book or passage are you going to study in detail? What biblical sermons or talks will you listen to? What do you want to memorize? When and where will you read, study, listen and memorize?

The exercise of meditating on Scripture is like the other disciplines. If you think they will come without any planning and intentionality, you’re wrong.

If you don’t have a plan, chances are, you will meditate on Scripture sporadically. You will look back on your year and realize you’ve consumed very little Scripture, as opposed to a lot of other stuff from the culture.

Meditate on the Word by Reading It Obviously, the first place to start for meditating on the Word is by reading it. Sadly, few Christians actually seek God for daily spiritual bread. A recent survey reported that more people remember the ingredients on America's favorite burger than remember the Ten Commandments. Kelton Research conducted a poll of 1,000 people to determine basic knowledge of the Ten Commandments. Eighty percent of those polled knew that a Big Mac had two all-beef patties and sixty-two percent knew that it had pickles! But less than fifty percent could remember even seven of the Ten Commandments. Other statistics show depressing reports about how Christians neglect God’s Word. But surely these would do better if they were in a Bible-teaching church, right? Not necessarily. One incredible Bible-preacher surveyed his congregation about their daily Bible reading practice and he said it was one of the most discouraging discoveries of his ministry. He wanted to quit.

Meanwhile, there are others who are literally dying for the Bible. When I went to Nigeria for the first time, we gave away reading glasses and Bibles. It was amazing to see these dear people so overjoyed with their own copy of the Bible. Their church services were long and filled with many readings of Scripture. In other parts of the world, the same hunger is happening. A friend of mine was asked to teach a group of pastors in a house church. After going through Nehemiah, they said, “That’s great. Can you teach the whole Old Testament?” To which he said, “That will take some time.” They said, “Ok.” For the next week he proceeded to teach for six hours a day to pastors who walked, rode their bikes significant distances. They were eager to know God’s Word. It is a privilege to have a copy of God’s Word.

Augustine said, “Where Scripture speaks, God speaks.” If we believed this, then maybe we wouldn’t mind sitting under God’s Word for six hours either through hearing or reading.

There are many ways to read through the Bible and I’m not trying to create a legalistic form for you. Many people can’t read at all. Fortunately, there are other ways to fill your mind with the Word (and the essential thing is just that, filling your mind with God’s Word). I’m concerned with people meditating on the Word, not with a prescribed method for doing it. But I’ll share a few ideas.

I’m currently reading through a chronological Bible reading plan. It consists of two or three chapters per day. I usually begin my morning here. Other plans that I’ve used include reading five Psalms a day and one Proverb per day. This takes you through the Psalms and Proverbs once per month. You may then consider also reading a portion of the Old and New Testaments with your Psalms and Proverbs reading. Some prefer to pick a book and read it each day for a month. There are a variety of ways to read the Bible, but just make sure you’re filling your mind with the Bible. You might consider one of the plans mentioned here. All of God’s Word is important.

“You can never have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures because you cannot be profoundly influenced by that which you do not know.”[1]

Meditate on the Word by Praying It Jesus makes a relationship between abiding in his Word and prayer. He says:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

When we read the Word, we hear from the Savior. When we pray, we communicate back to him. Praying back the Word of Christ should be natural.

Why is it good to pray the Scriptures? Praying the Scriptures will help you pray in God’s will. As the Word abides in you, then you can ask whatever you wish – and whatever you wish should be in close alignment with God’s purposes if his Word is truly abiding in you. When you read the Scriptures about particular virtues and values, pray them for your children, family and church. When you read verses about God’s global mission, pray for God to use you and your church among the peoples for Christ’s namesake.

Praying the Word will also keep your prayer life from being routine. Have you ever heard the guy that prays the exact same way before every single meal or before taking up the offering? Do you ever feel like you are just repeating the same things yourself? Does prayer feel cold and lifeless? I suggest that you take your daily reading plan and pray it. I love praying the Proverbs for my kids. Here, I come across many things that I probably would not have thought to pray otherwise.

Praying the Word will also keep your Bible reading from becoming routine, as well. People sometimes ask, “How do you spend an hour with God?” You would be surprised how quickly an hour goes by when you are reading and praying. Your reading time will be energized as you pray as you read.

Pray for God to open your eyes to behold his truth and then pray these truths for yourself and others that God may write them on your heart.

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man, rev. ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 77.

Tony Merida serves as the Lead Pastor of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, NC and as the Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Kimberly, with whom he has five children. Tony is the co-author of Orphanology and author of Faithful Preaching. He travels and speaks all over the world at various events, especially pastor’s conferences, orphan care events, and youth/college conferences.