“Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, so that your advancement may be plainly seen by all people.”—1 TIM. 4:15.
1, 2. In what important ways is the human brain unique?
LANGUAGE enables humans to read, write, speak, understand the spoken word, pray, and sing praises to Jehovah. Each of these actions is astonishing and involves regions of the brain and neural networks that scientists still do not fully understand. Because our brain is unique, we are able to learn a language. “The ability of human children to acquire a language,” states a professor of linguistics, “is one of the hallmarks of [humans].”
2 Man’s linguistic abilities are a miraculous gift designed by God. (Ps. 139:14; Rev. 4:11) Our God-given brain is unique in another important respect. Unlike animals, humans were created “in God’s image.” They have free will and can choose to use their linguistic skills to glorify God.—Gen. 1:27.
3. What wonderful gift has Jehovah provided to make us wise?
3 To all who desire to honor the Creator of language, God has given a wonderful gift, the Bible. It is available in whole or in part in over 2,800 languages. When you absorb these holy writings, you are filling your mind with the thoughts of God. (Ps. 40:5; 92:5; 139:17) Thus you can enjoy meditating on things that “are able to make you wise for salvation.”—Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
4. What does it mean to meditate, and what questions will we consider?
4 To meditate means to focus your thoughts and to reflect on or ponder over something, be it good or bad. (Ps. 77:12; Prov. 24:1, 2) The two best subjects for meditation are Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) We may wonder, though, what is the connection between reading and meditating? What opportunities are there for us to meditate, and how can we make meditation an enjoyable habit?
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR STUDY IS PRODUCTIVE
5, 6. When you read, what may help you to improve your understanding and your ability to remember what you read?
5 Amazing things can be done by your brain, sometimes even without your conscious effort. For example, breathing, walking, riding a bicycle, or touch-typing are automatic processes that you may be able to do without even thinking. To some extent, this is also true of reading. It is vital, therefore, to focus on the meaning of what you are reading. When getting to the end of a paragraph or before starting a new subheading in a publication, you might pause and ponder over what you have just read to be sure that you understand it correctly. Of course, distractions and a lack of concentration may cause your mind to wander, making your reading unproductive. How can this be avoided?
6 Scientific research shows that saying words aloud during study makes them easier to recall. The Creator of our brain knows this. That is why he instructed Joshua to read His book of the Law “in an undertone.” (Read Joshua 1:8.) You will likely find that reading the Bible softly, or in an undertone, makes a deeper impression on your mind. This may also help you to concentrate better.
7. When is the best time to meditate on God’s Word? (See opening image.)
7 While reading may be done with little effort, meditation requires concentration. That is why the imperfect human brain is inclined to switch to easier, less demanding tasks. Thus, the best time to meditate is when you are rested and in a stress-free environment with few distractions. The psalmist found that a good time to meditate was while he was awake in bed during the night. (Ps. 63:6) Jesus, who had perfect mental powers, knew the advantage of being in quiet places to meditate and pray.—Luke 6:12.
GOOD THINGS TO MEDITATE ON
8. (a) Besides God’s Word, what can we meditate on? (b) How does Jehovah feel about the time we spend talking about him?
8 Reflecting on what you read in the Bible is one important way to meditate, but there are others. For example, as you view the marvels of creation, pause and think. This will no doubt move you to praise Jehovah for his goodness and—if you are with a companion—to share your appreciative feelings. (Ps. 104:24; Acts 14:17) Does Jehovah value such prayerful thoughts and expressions about him? Let his precious Word give the answer. Concerning these critical last days, we have this promise: “At that time those who fear Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance was written before him for those fearing Jehovah and for those meditating on his name.”—Mal. 3:16.
9. (a) What did Paul tell Timothy to meditate on? (b) How can we apply Paul’s counsel when we prepare for our ministry?
9 The apostle Paul told Timothy to “ponder over [or, “meditate on,” ftn.]” the effects of his speech, his conduct, and his teaching. (Read 1 Timothy 4:12-16.) Like Timothy, we have an abundance of spiritual activities to think about. For example, we need time to meditate as we prepare to conduct a Bible study. With each student in mind, we might think of a viewpoint question or an illustration to help the student make progress. Time spent in this way can be most refreshing, as pondering over these things strengthens our own faith and helps us to conduct our Bible studies with greater effectiveness and enthusiasm. The same is true when we prepare our heart to go out in the field service. (Read Ezra 7:10.) Reading a chapter from the Bible book of Acts will “stir up like a fire” our enthusiasm for the ministry. Meditating on Bible verses we intend to use that day and the publications we plan to offer will help us carry out our privilege of service. (2 Tim. 1:6) Think about the people in the territory and what may arouse their interest. All such preparation will move us to witness effectively “with a demonstration of spirit and power” from the Word of God.—1 Cor. 2:4.
10. What additional opportunities do we have to meditate on spiritual things?
10 Do you at times take notes during public talks, assemblies, and conventions? Reviewing these notes provides excellent opportunities for meditation as you think about what you have learned from God’s Word and from his organization. Also, each month’s issues of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and the latest convention releases give us fresh information that we can read and digest. When you read the Yearbook, you may find it helpful to pause before moving from one experience to another. That will give you time to reflect on what you read and to let the experience touch your heart. You may want to underline key thoughts or to make notes in the margin, which you might find helpful when preparing for a return visit, a shepherding call, or a future talk. Most important, pausing and meditating every now and then while reading Bible-based publications will give you the opportunity to absorb the material and to say a prayer of thanks to Jehovah for the good things you are learning.
DAILY MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD
11. What should be the primary focus of our meditation, and why? (See also footnote.)
11 Of course, the primary focus of our meditation should be God’s inspired Word. Suppose you are in a circumstance where you are deprived of a Bible.* You will never be deprived of the ability to meditate on what you have stored in your memory, such as your favorite scriptures and the words of Kingdom songs. (Acts 16:25) And God’s spirit can help bring back to your mind the good things you have learned.—John 14:26.
12. What routine of Bible reading can be beneficial?
12 Some days of the week can be set aside to read and meditate on the weekly Bible reading for the Theocratic Ministry School. Other days can be set aside for meditating on what Jesus said and did. You will surely agree that among the better-known books of the Bible are the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pet. 2:21) God’s people have even been provided with a publication that puts Jesus’ experiences and time on earth in chronological order. It is a wonderful aid, especially if we carefully read and meditate on the parallel Gospel passages cited in each chapter.—John 14:6.
WHY IS MEDITATION SO IMPORTANT?
13, 14. Why is it so important for us to keep meditating on spiritual things, and what will this motivate us to do?
13 Meditating on spiritual things will help a person grow to Christian maturity. (Heb. 5:14; 6:1) A person who spends little time thinking about Jehovah and Jesus will not maintain strong faith. Such a person is in danger of drifting away or drawing away from the truth. (Heb. 2:1; 3:12) Jesus warned that if we do not hear, or accept, God’s Word “with a fine and good heart,” we will not “retain” it. Instead, we could easily be “carried away by anxieties, riches, and pleasures of this life, . . . and bring nothing to maturity.”—Luke 8:14, 15.
14 Therefore, let us continue to ponder over God’s Word. This will motivate us to reflect Jehovah’s glory, qualities, and personality as revealed in the Bible. (2 Cor. 3:18) What more could we ask for? Growing in the knowledge of God and being allowed to reflect his glory are wonderful privileges, a never-ending process as we continue to learn how to imitate our loving heavenly Father.—Eccl. 3:11.
15, 16. (a) How do we personally benefit from pondering over spiritual matters? (b) Why may it sometimes be difficult to meditate, but why should we persist?
15 By continuing to ponder over spiritual things, we will maintain our enthusiasm for the truth. Thus we will be a source of refreshment to our brothers and to the interested ones we meet in the field service. Meditating deeply on God’s greatest gift, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, will help us to cherish the privilege of having a close relationship with our Holy Father, Jehovah. (Rom. 3:24; Jas. 4:8) Mark, a South African who spent three years in prison because of his Christian neutrality, said: “Meditation can be compared to an exciting adventure. The more we meditate on spiritual things, the more we discover new things about our God, Jehovah. At times when I’m feeling a little discouraged or anxious about the future, I pick up the Bible and meditate on a passage of Scripture. I feel that it really calms me down.”
16 True, life in today’s world is so full of distractions that it is sometimes very difficult to meditate on spiritual things. Another faithful African brother, named Patrick, admits: “My mind is like a mailbox filled with a variety of information, both wanted and unwanted, that needs to be sorted every day. As I search the contents of my mind, I often find ‘disquieting thoughts,’ and I have to pray to Jehovah about them before I can meditate with a clear mind. Although doing this might take a little time before I can start to meditate on spiritual subjects, I feel closer to Jehovah. This opens my mind to understanding the truth better.” (Ps. 94:19, ftn.) Indeed, wonderful benefits come to all who are “examining the Scriptures daily” and meditating on what they learn.—Acts 17:11.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME?
17. How do you find the time to meditate?
17 Some get up early in the morning to read, meditate, and pray. Others do so during their lunch break. You might find that this can be done early in the evening or before you go to bed. Some enjoy reading the Bible in the morning and again before retiring. Thus they “read it . . . day and night,” or regularly. (Josh. 1:8) The important thing is to buy out time from less important things for daily meditation on God’s Word.—Eph. 5:15, 16.
18. What does the Bible say about all who daily meditate on God’s Word and strive to apply what they learn?
18 God’s Word repeatedly promises blessings to all who meditate on it and who strive to apply what they learn. (Read Psalm 1:1-3.) “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it,” said Jesus. (Luke 11:28) Most important, meditating on spiritual things each day will help us to bring honor to the Grand Creator of our marvelous brain, and he will reward us with happiness now and everlasting life in his righteous new world.—Jas. 1:25; Rev. 1:3.
See the article “Our Fight to Stay Spiritually Strong” in The Watchtower, December 1, 2006.