The Worship Quote of the Week for (02/26/2008):

What Is Meditation?
The psalmist describes the blessed person as one who "meditates on God's law day and night" (Psalm 1:2). In Psalm 119:5 he says (or sings), "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways." What is meditation on God's Word? Is it the same as studying the Bible? Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE explores the significance of meditation in the Christian life. The author is Michael Haykin, a scholar who has just written a book on biblical spirituality.

Meditation is clearly not the same as study. It is often a dwelling upon and a "chewing over" what one has found through hard study of the Scriptures. The nineteenth-century Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898) says of meditation that it is not "the mental bustle of investigation, but the dwelling of the thought" upon God and his perfections. Meditation most definitely involves thought, for it is not an irrational emptying of our minds as in eastern concepts of meditation. But it involves more than the mind. Its design is "the raising of the heart to holy affections."

There is, however, a major problem for Christians in the West with regard to meditation. Our entire system of education "has trained us almost solely to read for information and skills acquisition" (Simon Chan, SPIRITUAL THEOLOGY, 162)). We thus need to re-form our habit of reading so that we know how to read slowly, savoring every word, mulling it over. The protestant martyr Thomas Canmer (1489-1556) puts it well when, in his Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent, he asks for God's grace to "inwardly digest" the Scriptures:

Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to be
written for our learning; grant us that we may in such wise
hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that
by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace,
and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which
thou has given us in our savior Jesus Christ.

--Michael A. G. Haykin, THE GOD WHO DRAWS NEAR: AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL SPIRITUALITY, Webster, NY: Evangelical Press USA, 2007, p 64. ISBN-13 978-0-85234-638-9.

Have a great week!

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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