Colorado Spring, CO: NAVPRESS, 1976
Retired US Naval officer and long-time Navigators staff member Jim Downing (1913 – 2018) wrote this hundred plus page book several decades ago to teach believers how to grow in the important spiritual discipline of meditating on God’s Word. He believes that many Christians read the Bible, but for biblical truth to deeply imbed into our lives and cause us to grow in our relationship with the Lord, we should also meditate on it. (See Psalm 1:2, 19:14, 63:6, and 119:15, 78, 97, 99, 148.)
We become fruitful Christians by hearing the Word of God, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, but especially by meditating on it, i.e. deeply reflecting on it. Downing compares meditation with rumination or chewing the cud by a class of animals known as ruminants. He writes “As we meditate on the Word of God, the life of Jesus Christ flows out of Him, through the Word, and becomes a part of our spiritual bloodstream. The Bible is the primary means by which we share the life of Christ.”
Some have said that the Navigators have made the Bible a fetish. Downing disagrees. He believes the written Word of God is not a barrier between the soul and God, but a door which opens up communion with Him.
The author develop three important three steps in becoming a fruit bearing Christian: (1) meditation or knowing, which involves our mind, (2) communion or affection, which involves our heart, and (3) obedience or choosing, which involves our will.
If we are to grow in the Christian life we also need adversity. This causes us to trust the Lord and make use of His resources. The author makes the analogy of a tree which has to draw additional nourishment in times of stress.
Besides a morning quiet time and meditating on God’s Word during the day, Downing believes that our last thought of each day should be a biblical truth. He thinks it will remain in our subconscious mind during our sleep, and hopefully it will be our first thought when we get up in the morning.
Downing encourages us to take a few seconds every morning and as many times as the routine of the day allows to (1) declare that God is on the throne, (2) thank Him for sending His Son Jesus Christ to take away our sins, (3) confess our love for Him, (4) tell Him that He is great, (5) thank Him for proving Himself real to us, (6) praise Him for who He is, (7) praise Him for all He has done, and (8) choose to let Him be real to us in that moment and in the moments ahead.
In conclusion, the Downing writes, “As we nourish our souls in meditation, communion, and right choices, we respond to Christ and are strengthening our sensitivities to hear the inner voice of God. As we nourish these powers and deny the dissenting voices, we are growing toward maturity and fuller enjoyment of Jesus Christ. We become increasingly like the fruit bearing tree that never ceases to yield fruit, regardless of the time, place, or circumstances.”