I remember a day when my print version Bible sat on my nightstand. I would read it before bed. Now, instead of my Bible on my nightstand, I have something “better”—my smart phone. With my smart phone, I have access not only to a Bible in multiple translations, but I also have access to blogs, calendar, email, to do lists, and my alarm. And, oh, did I mention, a notepad to draft a blog post about meditating in a distracting world?
We live in a distracting world. And meditation is hard.
When I use the word “meditation,” I am not talking about a New Age practice. I am simply talking about the ancient practice of thinking and dwelling on the words of Scripture. Meditation takes time and concentration with little distraction.
Meditation is important, because as a Christian, one of the primary ways God changes you is by you meditating on his Word (see: Deut 6:7; 32:46; Ps 19:14; 49:13; 63:3; 94:19; 119:11; 143:5; Isa 1:3; Luke 2:19; John 4:24; Eph 1:18; 1 Tim 4:13; Heb 3:1). But how can you practice meditation in such a distracting world?
Ironically, before the invention of smart phones, the Puritans offered three practical tips that are even relevant in our time:
Tip 1: Meditate frequently. Not only does frequency increase the habit, but frequency increases attention and retention. Lengthy intervals will hinder fruit. Like a bird when she leaves for a long interval, her eggs chill. So, when we leave mediation for a long time, we become cold; fruit is hindered. In a distracting world, you need to set a specific, frequent time to meditate on the Scriptures. It won’t happen if you don’t.
Tip 2: Meditate seriously. Find a place that is free from interruption. Not only physical interruption (like children vying for your attention), but free from mental interruption. Your Bible app on your cell phone might not be the best device to meditate on God’s Word—it might provide too much distraction.
Tip 3: Meditate intelligibly. Say a short prayer before you begin. Select a short passage. Memorize a verse or two. The process of memorization will help you meditate.
If you practice these three simple tips, you are well on your way to meditating in distracting world in this new year. Spurgeon once said: “A bushel full of resolutions is of small value; a single grain of practice, is worth the whole.”
And, if you have read this blog post till the end, let me encourage you: you can meditate! You can read something and not get distracted! Hurray! Now apply the same energy and interest to the Scriptures.