ST. CHARLES—Praying the vision will increase was the first prayer shared at the Plant Midwest Conference Aug 22 at The Church on Main here. About 125 church planters, pastors and regional leaders gathered here to learn, to pray and to connect.
Don Whitney, associate professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., focused the learning on the discipline of meditating on the Word of God. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life was distributed to the first 75 registrants.
Whitney told the group that personal discipline has two problems—intake of God’s Word and prayer.
“With the intake of the Word,” he said, “many people close the book and forget what they read. While with prayer, they say the same old thing.”
Whitney said that those people think that they are the problem.
“They think, ‘I’m a second-rate Christian’ and I can’t do this,’” he said. “The real problem is their method. It is fundamentally simple because God has called a wide range of people on all levels. God has not called the wise. He gives us a hunger for the Word of God, but the transformation of life rarely happens.”
Reading God’s Word is only the starting point according to Whitney.
“Reading is the exposure to God’s Word, but meditating is the absorption that leads to transformation,” he said.
Whitney explained the difference between worldly meditation and Christian meditation.
“Worldly meditation says to empty your mind and to desire mental passivity while visually creating your own reality,” he said. “Christian meditation requires mental activity. God wants us to dwell on true things in Philippians 4:8 and to link meditation with prayer and action.”
Whitney’s definition of meditation is deep thinking on truth and the spiritual realities received from Scripture or on life from a Scriptural perspective for the purpose of understanding, application and prayer. He gave the analogy of Scripture as the tea bag and our mind as the cup of hot water.
“Plunge the Scripture into your mind and let it steep,” he said. “Let the Bible brew in your mind so that it colors your life and God can flavor your life.”
Whitney also discussed the importance of meditation to Joshua and David (Josh. 1:8 and Ps. 39:3).
“Meditation precedes obedience which precedes God’s blessing,” he said. “God’s blessing is becoming more like His Son, Jesus. Being busy is one of the chief reasons for not meditating, but look at the responsibilities of both Joshua and David. We know that we don’t have the responsibilities of these two men.”
Whitney spent the afternoon session giving specific tips on the process of meditation such as selecting key verses and highlighting individual words.
“Reading the Bible is like crossing a lake in a motor boat,” Whitney said. “Meditation is like crossing that same lake in a glass bottom boat and getting the panoramic view.”
VICKI STAMPS/contributing writer