Prayer and meditation on God’s message in the Bible builds spiritual strength. Psalm 119:97-104 describes the equipping power of the Word of God as a psalmist prays to the Lord. He begins, “O how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” He describes a passion for doing the will of the Lord that drives him to study the instruction revealed within the pages of the Bible (although for him it was more likely a scroll). He is a person of prayer, but his prayer is grounded in written revelation of God and his desire to comply to God’s will rather than his own desires. Although many prayers in our time center around petition, asking God to grant our wishes and supply our needs, this prayer includes no request. He recounts his love for the law of the Lord, and how God’s instructions have benefited him. He identifies three groups with whom his relationship has been altered because of his meditation on the Word: his enemies, his teachers, and the elders of his people. He is wiser and has more understanding than the members of those group. His prayer and meditation on the law of God has equipped him to overcome the attacks from his enemies and to advise those who previously have taught or led him. That wisdom does not flow from superior intellect or formal instruction; it derives from his continuous reading and meditation upon the Scriptures. Biblical meditation is not repetition of nonsense syllables or focused silent reflection on one’s inner self, although silence can focus our awareness of God’s world around us. In a class I am teaching about Psalm 119, we begin each session by reading the eight verse section we are studying three times. I read the verses twice, emphasizing different key words each time. Then we read the passage aloud together from a different translation. We meditate on the prayer even as we pray it afresh. The psalmist has gained wisdom because he loves God’s law, he meditates upon it regularly, and he practices what he learns. He obeys the law of the Lord. His love blossoms into action. He has also learned restraint: “I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me” (verses 101-102). Reading the Bible and meditating on its words has positive, practical results when we act out the good that we learn. As we meditate and pray about God’s will, we grow to be the people he wants us to be. We realize the power of his instructions to change us and our world.
O Lord, Reflection on your word reminds me of how you have demonstrated his power and your love. I remember also, as I read and meditate upon your scriptures, what my responsibilities are in regard to other people and this world you created. The Bible inspires as I read about your relationship with often rebellious people and groups. Your patience and love give me hope. Meditation on your word makes me wiser and equips me to teach and to counsel others. My memory of your message gives me resolve when I experience disappointment or encounter temptation. I have strength to overcome in moments of doubt or attack. I can turn away from the path that leads to destruction. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and for the love you have shown in revealing your will to us through the written word and in the person of your Son, the Word of God. In Jesus’ name, amen.