There is no doubt that meditation is a discipline. I found Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, has an informative chapter on meditation. Obviously, if you research meditation today, you will find thousands of links and an abundance of information on this popular practice. Here’s how I’ve experienced Christian meditation. We live in a world of noise, hurry, and crowds – if we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, we must be willing to recreate silences.
Take your day today – crowded out, voices demanding, how many times have you said or thought, ‘I’m too busy.’
The bible uses two words to convey meditation, and together they’re used many times in scripture referring to:
Listening to God. Reflecting on God’s word. Reflecting on his works.
Rehearsing his deeds. Ruminating on his law.
In each case there is stress upon a changed behavior as a result of an encounter with the living God, it is a continual focus upon obedience and faithfulness. Here are just a few examples of meditation in scripture:
- Isaac went out to meditate in the evening. Gen 24:63
- I think of you upon my bed and meditate upon you in the watches of the night. Psalm 63:6
- I will meditate upon your promise. Psalm 119:148
- Eli knew how to listen, and taught Samuel.
- Elijah spent day and night in the wilderness learning to discern the still small voice.
The list goes on. God spoke to them, not because of special abilities but because they were willing to listen. The Hebrew word for meditate used here is hagah, meaning to speak, mutter, muse, imagine or plot.
The beauty of a garden created for communion – them with God, Him with them. They fell. They hid. Then, Moses learned to hear God’s voice, speaking ‘face to face as a man speaks with his friend.’ Communion restored. The Israelites were not prepared for this face to face intimacy and preferred to listen to God through Moses. So began a long line of prophets, judges. Thankfully, in the fullness of time, Jesus taught us the reality of the kingdom. Jesus sets us the ultimate example of meditation and communion, modeling for us a hearing and obeying life.
In meditation, we are growing into an intimate friendship with Jesus. What happens in meditation is that we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary of the heart. He is looking for communion with us, with an inward fellowship of this kind the only outcome is transforming the of the inner person.
We can’t remain the same. All that’s in our way – will have to let go – not have to, but want to.
Christian meditation and other types of meditation are worlds apart. One empties the mind, the other fills it. Christian meditation goes beyond detachment through deliverance, to rich attachment with God.
Some might say it’s too difficult, too complicated, let’s leave it to those who have time.’
Yet those who meditate would say it is as natural, and important, as breathing.
Some would say it is out of touch with modern-day thinking, out of touch with reality and suffering.
Yet rather than immunity – meditation yields insights and wisdom for everyday life. How to deal with, issues, problems, finding breakthroughs.
Preparing to meditate
We learn to meditate by… meditating. Our goal is to live in a place of meditation, the church fathers often spoke of ‘optium sanctum’ or holy leisure, a sense of balance and peace through the activities of the day. Living life in the presence, living life deliberately through the day and not sleepwalking. I think that comes in time. So, until then, try setting time aside.
Meditate upon Scripture
The primary form of meditation is on scripture, the study of scripture centres on exegesis, meditation centres on internalizing, and personalising the passage. Resisting the temptation to pass over superficially as rushing reflects our internal state, and this is what needs transforming.
Take a single event, parable, a few verses. Allow it to take root. Applying all of your senses to the task. For example, ‘My peace I give to you’ What is the reality of this verse, brood on the truth, allow the whole person awakened. Rather than dissecting the peace, we are entering into it, until we’re not choosing to act peacefully, it’s springing from within.
Meditate upon creation
Look at created order. The beauty in symmetry. Listen to birds. God reaches us profoundly when we silence ourselves to listen. Allow it to become a way of life. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of His hands.’ Psalm 19:1
Meditation is a passive discipline, characterized by reflection rather than study. Not so much an action but to be acted upon. The purpose of meditation is to hear God more clearly. It is listening, sensing, heeding, the life and light of Christ …which will ultimately transform us.
There is a Christian Meditation app, ABIDE, found here that is said to be helping 4 million users in 210 countries alleviate their depression, anxiety, and day-to-day worries. For more than a year, the fast-growing mobile app has been ranked in the Top 10 by iTunes for the search term “depression.”
Let me know about your meditative practice.
In. Out. I try to breathe as I feel my body tense with anxiety. I immediately want to throw up, or run, or both. I had gotten very used to the feeling that I needed to escape from situations. Or fight through nausea that seemed to happen without warning or a tangible cause.
There are a few things now that I do to quell anxiousness when it lurks close. I breathe. Deep long breaths in and out to help my body get the air it would deny itself in panic. I remind myself that I am limited. That there is only so much I can do, but that God is sovereign over every situation.
I List. I list blessings. I list the lovely things. Like birch trees swaying in the wind. A bird I hear in the distance. The smell of fresh laundry. I dwell on things that are good to stop the swirls of uncertainty that vie for my attention in my own brain. I thank God that he has allowed me to experience these things.
I make plans, something to look forward to. A show to watch with a friend or Bubble tea down the street later. Anything that will bring joy and attention to something good or productive.
I focus on the physical, the here and now. This often looks like creating rhythm by tapping fingers. I can go from Restless to rhythmic to help me focus. Or rings, I wear rings and will spin them or take them on and off. Not only for anxiousness, but this helps with quiet fidgeting.
Prayer. Sometimes I just need to be in a quiet place with the Lord.
We are all so beautifully different. I hope for you that there will be comfort. Maybe in one or all these things that have helped me.
Meditate and Memorise
‘God’s lavish grace has been measured out for you according to God’s infinite wisdom, in just the right proportion and scheduled perfectly to meet your exact needs, whatever they may be.’ Matthew 6:33–34
Listen: Lion|Lamb, Joshua Leventhal
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