When most of us think about meditation we are likely to think of a Buddhist monk sitting crossed-legged in his bright orange robe and chanting. And that certainly is one form of meditation, though it is not Christian meditation. Sadly, many, if not most, Christians are completely unaware of the spiritual discipline of meditation. The psalms, however, are full of references to meditation. Psalm one tells us that the people of God meditate on His word day and night. Psalm 4 encourages us to meditate in our beds. Psalm 77 encourages us to meditate on all of God’s works. Psalm 119 tells us to meditate on God words and works. That meditation is an essential part of the Christian life is indisputable.
What is the purpose of meditation?
The purpose of meditation is very simple: to hear from God. We must remember, however, that hearing from God must result in obedience to God if we are to receive any benefit. James 1:25 says, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” Through focused reflection on God’s word, His creation, and His goodness toward us as believers, we are gradually transformed into the likeness of Christ. We are graced to know the mind and heart of Christ.
Differences between Eastern and Christian meditation
If you have ever been taught to meditate or had a mental health professional train you in mindfulness techniques, you have learned a stripped-down version of meditation. The purpose of Buddhist meditation, for instance is to “quiet the mind.” The image that is frequently taught is for the mind to be like the perfectly still surface of a lake in the early morning. Each thought is like a stone that causes a ripple, disturbing the surface of the water. Alternately, Christian meditation focuses its attention of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The goal of Christian meditation is not to empty oneself of thought, but to intensely focus on God so that contact with God becomes possible.
Learning to Meditate
There is only one way to meditate: do it. Find a time when you can sit undisturbed for the length of time you are meditating (10-15 minutes is a good starting place). I often use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones with soft music playing to block out sound. I most often meditate in the morning because that is when my environment is quietest, and I am least likely to be interrupted. I most frequently sit on a zafu and zabuton because I like being connected to the ground. But I also spend a lot of time meditating in my desk chair in front of my computer because that is where I study the Bible.
How to meditate
There are many different forms of meditation, but the easiest place to start is meditation Scripture. Read a passage of Scripture. Ask God to speak to you through the passage. Let go of any questions you have about the text. Don’t try to define the words or think about how you might teach or preach the passage. These things are important, but they are not the purpose of meditation. Wait expectantly for a word or phrase from the passage to stand out to you as your read the passage several times. When you have that word or phrase, just repeat it to yourself as you breath in an out. Ask God what He wants you to know from that word or phrase. That’s it. So, just do it.
Meditation is easy and hard
The truth is that all us already know how to meditate. Have you ever worried about something? Have you ever focused on something you preceived as threatening so much that you could feel your anxiety level increasing by the minute? Well, that’s meditation. It’s not a good form of meditation, but it is meditation nonetheless. So, if you know how to worry, you know how to meditation. The hard part is harnessing your natural ability so that God can use it to develop you into the person He has called you to be. Over time, your ability concentrate and stay focused will improve. Over time, you will begin to enjoy the time you spend reveling in the presence of God through meditation. So, start today. Start right now.
If you would like to learn how to meditate, contact me and I will be happy to coach you through it.
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