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Listening or Meditating
October 13, 2014

Chapter 3 excerpt from "Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God's Work" by Ken Ramey


Reading the Word on a daily basis will develop in you a healthy appetite for God’s Word. You can’t expect to come to church on Sunday with a hunger for God’s Word if you haven’t been feeding on it throughout the week. John Piper likens daily Bible reading to eating an appetizer that cultivates a spiritual appetite for the Sunday sermon; that is, it prepares and trains your palate for the main meal. If you have the privilege of sitting under a preacher who teaches through books of the Bible, the best hors d’oeuvre to get you ready to eat the main course on Sunday is to study the passage your pastor will be expositing next. Richard Baxter said, “Read and meditate on the Holy Scriptures much in private, and then you will be the better able to understand what is preached on it in public.”1

This basic principle of meditation is clearly established in Psalm 1:1–3:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

Meditation serves as the bridge between interpretation and application, between knowing what a passage means and putting it into practice. To meditate means simply to think long and hard about the text—to mull it over and over again in your mind like a cow chewing its cud. Richard Baxter used this vivid analogy in describing what to do with a sermon after it is over: “Chew the cud, and call up all when you come home in secret, and by meditation preach it over to yourselves. If it were coldly delivered by the preacher, do you consider of the great weight of the matter, and preach it more earnestly over to your own hearts.”2

Sometimes the application of a particular text of Scripture is crystal clear. Other times it takes a lot of time and effort before you see how a passage applies to your life. Asking yourself a series of questions as you meditate on a particular passage of Scripture will help you determine how it applies practically to your life. Based on 2 Timothy 3:16, which states that Scripture is useful for four things—“for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”—start by asking yourself the following four questions every time you read the Bible:

  • What did I learn ( “teaching”)?
  • Where do I fall short (“reproof ”)?
  • What do I need to do about it (“correction”)?
  • How can I make this a consistent part of my life (“training”)?

When you pummel a passage with all these questions, at least one or more of them will likely pinpoint something you can apply to your life in a practical way. Then, when you are listening to the preaching of God’s Word, your heart will be trained to apply these same questions to the text under consideration rather than having your mind wander throughout the sermon. OR, use these questions as you work through the Weekly Bible Verses at Westney...


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