Meditation and Illumination
Thus far, we have talked about the power of scripture and the power of prayer. But neither will accomplish much unless we practice the art of meditation, the “so what” of devotions. Our Savior has given us both of these disciplines as an act of His great grace. But, He has done more. When Jesus was about to die, He instructed His disciples concerning the necessity that He leaves them physically.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;  concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:7-15 ESV)
Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit, whom God will give you will guide you into all truth and teach you what God desires for you. This is the power of illumination whereby God takes the scriptures and our prayers and illuminates His will to us. This does not happen unless we are willing to tune out all else and see in this precious time alone with God how the scriptures we have been studying and how the burdens of our souls feel as we practice such meditating through prayer.
I will tell you this as one who has preached the Word of God for 45 years. This is the hardest part of sermon preparation – the so what of my work. I can properly exegete the scriptures, organize an impeccable outline and place timely illustrations as windows to the soul and yet fail miserably in my delivery if I do not address the questions of the “so what.” This takes deep meditation to connect the power of the Word with the power of prayer and allows me to enter into the inner sanctums of my own soul so that I may enter into the inner sanctums of the souls of the people to whom I preach.
Illumination is more than great Bible study or long seasons of prayer. It is the missing ingredient in many of our devotions and the key to success. It is the power cord that is useless unless it is plugged in. It is the work of the Holy Spirit Who blots out the noise of the world so that I can hear His still small voice. This takes time, practice and patience. We must be still and know that He is God. Such meditation will cultivate sensitivity to recognizing needs in those for whom we are praying or an answer to our question of how to honor our God in that day. Slowly but surely, we will begin to see opportunities to reflect Jesus to others, because we spent time talking and listening and thinking through the so what of scripture for our specific lives.
Often we say in prayer “God teach me patience. Teach me to love my enemies. Teach me to give to the needs of others.” How do you think God is going to answer those prayers? He will show you in the Word what patience, love and selflessness looks like. And then He will place you right smack dab in the middle of situations that will require patience, or people who are your enemies so that will love them or into specific situations or where needy people are crying out for help. You will be better equipped (just as 2 Timothy 3:14-16 promises) for these difficult moments, recognizing that God is personally involved in every detail of your life. Take time, take precious time to experience the freedom that comes from meditating on His Word, talking to Him, looking for the “so what” of His Word, and then being on full alert for opportunities to experience His guiding presence in your daily life.
In His grip,
Chuck F. Betters
Digging Deeper: Psalm 1, 2 Timothy 3:14-16, John 15:7 -15
Special Offer: For a personal or small group Bible study that will take you deep into the hearts of men and women who transparently struggled with their personal relationship to God, check out Treasures of Faith: Living Boldly in View of God’s Promises by Chuck and Sharon Betters