I realize that discipline isn’t a popular concept in the spiritual realm. Christians may be disciplined in their diets, their exercise regimens, or in preparing for a presentation at work, but when it comes to their faith the notion of discipline is often ignored. Perhaps that explains the lack of power all too evident in many churches and in the lives of many Christians. Consider what God had to say to Joshua before he led the Israelites into Canaan:
“This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate therein day and night, so that you may observe to do all this is written therein: then you will make your way prosperous and then you shall have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
The gateway to the Psalter (Psalm 1) says:
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law he meditates day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.”
Notice the connection between success in the Christian life and meditating on the Word of God. I daresay that many Christians never take the time to meditate on the Bible. Many Christians probably couldn’t sit still long enough to do so. I don’t say meditation is easy; it is a discipline akin to studying for a final exam in school. It takes time and it takes effort.
Meditation requires thought—hard work for those unaccustomed to it—but productive thinking requires a working knowledge of the raw material that is God’s Word. The prerequisite for meditation is to, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (Study, incidentally, is another spiritual discipline. And such study needs to go beyond meeting in a Bible study group that reads and then discusses the latest book from a popular Christian writer. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t allow it to become a substitute for genuine personal study of the Bible.)
I believe one of the most important things about meditation is learning to listen to God’s Spirit. When I am having a conversation with my wife, it is a two-way street. Not only do I speak, but I try to listen carefully to what she has to say. How many times do we pray for understanding of a passage of scripture or ask for direction in a particular decision we have to make, but then fail to wait on the Spirit to impress His answer on our hearts?