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Review by James Jeffery
We live in one of the most entertainment-saturated, notification-heavy, and information-rich times in all of human history, and this can make it almost impossible to sit down in solitude and enjoy truly devoted time to God. While many Christians are unbeknownst to the fact they are drowning with distractions, others earnestly seek to know God more intimately, but don’t really know how to.
Rather than offering a novel technique, strategy, or insight into how we can supercharge our devotional time, Saxton delved into the works of the Puritans — protestants from the 16th to 17th century who devoted themselves to knowing God intimately, and living faithfully for His glory — and synthesised their writings on the topic of ‘meditation.’ The end product of Saxton’s studies is this concise, easily readable, and theologically rich reflection on the inner life of the Christian, which argues why we must resurrect the practice of Biblical meditation if we want to experience true Christian growth while living in a pagan world. Saxton highlights what Biblical meditation is, why it is so critically important, how you can do it, and what blessings will be wrought if we are diligent in pursuing God through meditation.
God’s Battle Plan for the Mind is a military strategy book for any Christian who seeks to live a victorious life — that is, a life lived for the glory of God. The control centre of the Christian, Saxton argues, is the mind, and so the key to intimacy with God is a mind consumed with God’s truth. There are three key reasons why I believe we desperately need to hear Saxton’s message about Biblical meditation.
Many Christians struggle to comprehend how deeply they have been forgiven, how loved they are, and how profound are the spiritual blessings won for them by Christ. Saxton argues that this may be in large measure due to a neglect of true Biblical meditation. He references Thomas Watson:
“Meditation has a transforming power in it. The hearing of the Word may affect us, but the meditating upon it transforms us. Meditation stamps the impression of divine truths upon our hearts” (p. 96)
To fill one’s mind with divine truths is one of the greatest privileges for the Christian, and when do so, we begin to see the world more and more through the lens of Christ, rather than the lens of our flesh.
The great end of Christianity is not behavioural modification, but the transforming of the heart so that we would glorify God with all that we are. This is why Saxton highlights the need for us to examine the affections of our hearts, as these affections ultimately manifest themselves in our desires and behaviours. As Christians, he argues, we must deal with the most vicious part of our lives — our ‘vain thoughts’ — as they are those which give rise to all manner of sin (p. 41).
“Look at the root and rise of a sinful practice, whence it springs, inwardly; otherwise, we shall never come to the core of a corruption, or see where the loathsomeness of lust lies” (Thomas Hooker as cited on p. 80)
Saxton shows that Biblical meditation was the norm for the puritans, and that they viewed it as their greatest weapon against the attacks of Satan, and as the source of joy in the Christian life. Saxton quotes Thomas Watson:
“Satan is content that you should be hearing and praying Christians, so that y[ou] be not meditating Christians; he can stand your small shot, provided that you do not put in this bullet” (p. 5)
Virtually all Christians know that quiet, devoted, quality time with God is critical for spiritual growth and the nourishment of one’s soul. However, many Christians are confused as to what it practically looks like to engage with God, and how we should structure our time with Him, on a daily basis. The great strength of Saxton’s book is that it provides realistic instructions for how you can start meditating with God from today! Consider just a couple of Saxton’s tips:
For the rest of his guidance, and for more puritan treasures, you will need to purchase the book!
If you are a layperson, this book is a treasure, because biblical meditation is important for all Christians. All those who trust in Christ are called to drink from the living waters Christ provides through meditation, and so it would be a tremendous blessing to see our generation of believers embrace this most precious privilege.
If you are a pastor, Saxton’s book will be particularly beneficial, as he explains the wonderful fruits which a life of meditation will bring to you and your congregation. It not only draws one nearer to God but helps us to see the world through God’s eyes — it enables us to ‘look at all things in life as… illustration[s] of spiritual truth’ (p. 42). This is why Saxton argues:
“Through my studies of Puritan meditation, I have become convinced that this was a major factor in what gave Puritan pastors such power in the pulpit and, of course, their methodical, pointed applications to their hearers” (p. 69)