Do you ever read the Bible and feel like God purposely led you there so He could share His heart for you in a certain situation? Have you ever read a book that was so good you just couldn't put it down? What about a sermon that convicted you deeply and drove you to make resolutions to change? Has a conversation ever stirred you so much that you just want to get up and go do something?
This happens to me pretty often. I often read blog posts that pique my interest or stir up my heart about some biblical truth or experiential reality. Sometimes I read a game-changing sentence about the goodness of God toward His people. Other times I read a moving biographical sketch of a saint that makes me want to imitate them as they imitate Christ. Many weeks at community group, a sister will share how God has been at work in her heart as she meditates in the Word during the chaos of motherhood.
More often than not, the stirring ends there. But why? Why is it so easy to be hot one moment and ice cold the next? How can I have zeal for the Word during the sermon and then be apathetic by the time lunch is over? It's not that I care less about God or His Word when I've just finished my lunch after church. It's not that I know less of the Bible when my belly is full and my kids are winding down for nap time. What is it, then?
We Need To Slow Down and Keep Coming Back
For me, it is a lack of meditation. If that sounds too new-age for you, it’s actually a biblical principle. Meditation is slowing down to think deeply and apply truth to our hearts. Whether it's a rousing quote from a good book, a deeply moving blog post, or a verse that sets my soul on fire, without meditation, it seems to stop as soon as I move on to the next sentence.
It's like getting only a teaspoon of my favorite thanksgiving food--my mom's corn pudding. I'll enjoy every bite of the other food, but I'm showing up for Momma's corn pudding. I need more than a bite to really enjoy it. In fact, I need some leftovers for Black Friday, too! This is how it is with Scripture, sermons, good books, and quotes, too.
James Ussher wrote that meditation is “worth more than a thousand sermons, and this is no debasing of the Word, but an honour to it.” If we want to get the most out of reading the Word, hearing sermons, talking with friends, or reading good books, we will have to slow down and let our minds dwell on what we've just encountered.
30 seconds may be all it takes.
Why 30 seconds? Honestly, it's an arbitrary number. But in 30 seconds, I can pull out my prayer journal and jot down a quick prayer. In 30 seconds, I can jot some thoughts into my notebook about what I've just read or heard. In 30 seconds, I can stop what I'm doing and ponder what I've just heard. In 30 seconds, I can think of at least one way to put into practice what God is revealing. In 30 seconds, I can pray.
God Can Do A Lot With A Little
Tweaking a John Piper quote, God can do more with our 30 seconds of prayerful meditation than we can do in 30 hours of information intake. This article is an example. I was reading Blogging For God's Glory in a Clickbait World when the authors asked if I would be willing to keep writing if my page views were zero and only God read my writing. This resonated with some recent thoughts and struggles I've had about writing and making music.
Normally, I would've just kept reading, but this time I stopped. It might've been 30 seconds. It could've been less. Regardless, I paused. I pondered. I prayed. I wrote a simple, short sentence in my prayer journal: "Lord, give me a desire to write and rap regardless of the applause".
I've never prayed this specific prayer, though the thoughts have crossed my mind plenty of times. This 30 seconds could shape the rest of my life and ministry, whatever God may allow. It could be that God prevents anyone from reading this post or anything else I ever write. It could be that God uses my writing to bless a multitude of saints. Either way, I am hopeful that He will continue to shape my heart to write for the right reasons.
From the Head to the Heart
I share this not to boast in my own piety. The Lord knows how weak I am! Rather, I'm sharing this to show how quickly we can move from information to transformation. When we take our head knowledge and bring it to the Lord in meditation and prayer, He makes it heart knowledge.
The implications for this are boundless. For example, if we read the "one anothers" of Scripture and take them to the Lord in prayer, we will begin to have gospel-centered, biblical unity and reconciliation stamped on our hearts in a time when we desperately need it. We won't be heady, puffed up, theological snobs seeking to devour everyone who disagrees with us.
Paul said it best when writing to the Philippian Church:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
By grace, our right thinking will lead to right doing. If we want the God of peace to dwell in and among us, we must fight to slow down and meditate on the right things. If we are in the presence of God seeking the power of God, we will know the peace of God that surpasses understanding.