Recollection and understanding of Scripture is key to spiritual health and development. It’s also imperative for faith to begin, as Paul reminds the church at Rome in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
But what if we don’t enjoy reading? What if we aren’t a “book worm”? What if we have a hard time concentrating and focusing, and then forget what we just read? Many struggle with this and, consequently, stop reading Scripture seriously. King David said the “blessed” man is the one who “meditates” on the Law day and night (Psalm 1:1-2). Does this mean our lives can’t be blessed if we aren’t good “readers”? Do we have to be a good English student to be a good Bible student?
These are excellent questions. While it’s true that reading the word of God is necessary to be sound and strong Christians, there’s good news for those who say, “Reading the text is just really difficult.”
The word “meditate” doesn’t only mean to read—it also means to “practice” or to “ponder”. This means we can “meditate” on Scripture in numerous ways. For example, if on Thursday you think about something that was said in a sermon on Sunday, you know what you’re doing? You’re meditating on the word of God (provided that thought was from Scripture). If you enjoy listening to the Bible out loud either through an app or CD in your car, guess what you’re doing—meditating on the word of God. If when you lay your head down to go to sleep at night, you think about your favorite passage, or sing your favorite hymn, guess what you’re doing—you’re meditating on the word of God. When faced with a difficult decision in life, if you seek God’s word for the answer, guess what you’re doing—you’re meditating on the word of God. You don’t have to be sitting under a lamp, in a quiet room, with coffee in hand reading for hours to “meditate.”
Take, for example, what God told Joshua in Joshua 1:8, when Joshua was handed the leadership torch from Moses. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night….” So was God telling Joshua, “Joshua, each time you go into battle, be sure and unroll the scrolls on the battlefield so you can meditate”? No, God was saying, “Remember Joshua. Ponder Joshua. Practice the promises I’ve made, Joshua. Be strong and courageous. Know the battle belongs to the Lord. Meditate on me.”
God wants us thinking about His word all the time, whether our nose is pointed in the book or pointed to Heaven. If you don’t enjoy reading, don’t panic. Do your best to read Scripture as much as you can and as often as you can; but remember, you don’t have to be a “book worm” to be a good Bible student.
This doesn’t mean we can ignore Bible study. We can’t “ponder” or “practice” God’s word if we don’t know what God’s word says; but if Scripture flows through our minds and rolls off our tongues, we will be that “blessed” man of Psalm 1—the man who “…is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”