Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Bible Meditation

Dietrich Bonhoeffer required his seminarians to give half an hour each morning to scripture meditation. Many of the students struggled with this task, so he wrote these instructions to help them understand the importance of meditation and to help them learn how to meditate on God’s Word.

Why do I meditate?

  1. Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me. I can only move forward with certainty upon the firm ground of the Word of God. And, as a Christian, I learn to know the Holy Scripture in no other way than by hearing the Word preached and by prayerful meditation.
  2. Because I am a preacher of the Word. I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me. I will misuse the Word in my office as preacher if I do not continue to meditate upon it in prayer. If the Word has become empty for me in my daily administrations, if I no longer experience it, that proves I have not let the Word speak personally to me for a long time. I will offend against my calling if I do not seek each day in prayer the word that my Lord wants to say to me for that day. Ministers of the Word are especially called upon to perform the office of prayer: “But we will devote oursleves to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). The pastor must pray than others, and has more to pray about.
  3. Because I need a firm discipline of prayer. We like to pray according to our moods — briefly, at length, or not at all. But that is to be arbitrary. Prayer is not a free-will offering to God; it is obligatory service, something that he requires. We are not free to engage in it according to our own wishes. Prayer is the first divine service in the day. God requires that we take time for this service. “Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust. My eyes are open in the night watches, that I may meditate upon your promise” (Psalm 119:147-148). “Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:164).
  4. Because I need help against the ungodly haste and unrest which threaten my work as a pastor. Only from the peace of God’s Word can there flow the proper, devoted service of each day.

(From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word, pp. 22-23).

Fowler Digital Books | The KJV Bible Memory Version: A Tool for Treasuring God's Word in Your Heart (King James Version), by Ray Fowler

For more on Bible meditation, click here for The Bible Memory Version.


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