Lent Notes: Meditating on God’s Word
“Meditate: to consider deeply, reflect upon; to turn over in the mind (from the Latin, probably linked with the word “to heal”): The Chambers Dictionary
In meditating, we are concentrating on scripture with the aim of meeting God, entering “into the living presence of God for ourselves.” (Celebration of Discipline, page 19). These notes make two suggestions as to how you might start to do that.
First of all, chose a time and a place that are normally quiet and free from interruptions. Use a chair on which you can sit comfortably and stay focussed. Along with your Bible, it’s a good idea to have a notebook for recording your impressions of what God is saying to you. Pray for God’s peace and protection, and His grace to enable you to see what He has to say.
This is a meditation in four stages. As you read, you may find yourself working through each stage one at a time, or you may find that the Holy Spirit leads you to move back and forth through the first three stages. Suggested reading: clusters of verses from Psalm 51 eg 1,2; 9,10; 11, 12,13; or 16,17
1 Read your chosen verses attentively and expectantly (lectio)
2 Ponder on the significance of the text, letting it sink in (meditatio)
3 Express yourself in praise, thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lamentation – you are allowing your real self to be touched and changed by God’s word (oratio)
4 Remain open to God’s love and peace, aware of His presence (contemplatio)
This method, named after St Ignatius Loyola, is particularly suitable for meditating on the Gospels, but you might like to try it with Old Testament stories. Its purpose is to make the Bible more alive to you as enter the narrative for yourself.
Start by choosing a Gospel passage. (Suggested passage: John 8:1-11) Read the passage twice, and make a note of what stands out each time. When you are familiar with the narrative, place yourself in the scene, either as a spectator or one of the main characters. Apply your senses to the scene. Is it night or day? Is the air warm or cold, still or windy? Is the sun shining brightly or is it cloudy? What is the ground like underfoot? Are you in the middle of a crowd or on the edge? What are you wearing? What smells reach your nose, and what sounds reach your ears?
As you place yourself within the scene, Jesus approaches you. What does he have to say to you? And what do you need to say to him? Take time to stay in the scene and listen to what is being said. Thank God for the opportunity to meet Him, and for any words He may have given you on this occasion.
I would add that it is wise to check any guidance given during a period of meditation against other passages in the Bible, and with friends: deep communion with God can be subject to interference.
You might like to read Chapter 2 of Celebration of Discipline for more meditation exercises. Joyce Huggett’s Listening to God describes her journey in contemplation and meditation.