We have flipped our calendars to the new year with excitement and optimism. And as Christians this means that Bible reading plans are making their rounds and are being gobbled up by well-intentioned, eager hands. I celebrate this as a good thing.

But hold on for a second, I have a quick question.

What did you read yesterday? No, not what chapter, but what did you read? What from God’s Word got ahold of you to produce a response? Did anything evoke conviction or delight? Did something particular from your reading explode in your heart with thanksgiving?

Hopefully the answer is yes. But too often the answer is, “Wait. Hold on. …I can’t remember.”

This reminds me of childhood trips to the dentist. Do you recall after the dentist put that horrific flouride treatment in your mouth? He then would spray in a bunch of water that you would lean over and (try to) spit in the small circular sink next to your head.

Sadly too many of us have a “swish and spit” devotional life. We grab a little Bible reading, swish it around in the morning, then spit it out on the way out the door. The treasures from the Word don’t get swallowed and digested but rather spit out quickly.

How do you combat dental chair devotions? One word: meditation.

Meditation should not be impugned as a New Age practice but employed as a biblical discipline. Meditation is the intentional chewing, tasting, ruminating, upon God’s Word. Far from “swish and spit” meditation is “sit and steep.” We need to steep the Word in the water of our soul so that we are flavored and colored by the Bible.

Listen to the Psalmist trumpet this principle:

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119.15,16,27,97)

Learn from our brother here in the Psalms, the priority for the believer is not to just move the bookmark ahead but to put the everlasting word into your heart and mind. The vehicle for this practice is reading, prayer and meditation.

Don’t undercut your desire to benefit from the Word of God this year by practicing dental chair devotions instead make it a priority to have the Word function like a lozenge continually refreshing and flavoring you throughout the day.