If you are like me, you find meditation a difficult practice. You like the idea of it, but find the reality difficult to carry out. In my mind, “meditation” seems like an ethereal term, one that contains a good idea but without any clear structure. I struggle with it.
In his book Simplify Your Spiritual Life, Donald Whitney says, “When meditating on a verse of Scripture, it’s usually much easier to answer specific questions about it than to think about the text without any guidance or direction at all.” Which, I think, pretty much explains my frustration. He describes meditating on Philippians 4:8 and realizing that the verse offers helpful directions for the kinds of things he could meditate on for any passage in the whole Bible.
Philippians 4:8, which you’ve probably memorized at one time or another, says, “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.” Whitney studied the verse for a time, and came up with a list of questions that can be helpful for meditating on nearly anything in your life, but especially Scripture. Here they are:
- What is true about this, or what truth does it exemplify?
- What is honorable about this?
- What is right about this?
- What is pure about this, or how does it exemplify purity?
- What is lovely about this?
- What is admirable, commendable, or reputation-strengthening about this?
- What is excellent about this (in other words, excepts others of this kind)?
And there you have it—8 questions that can help guide your meditation.
- What is praiseworthy about this?