In my church, we spent time going through Psalm 119. Which, random fact for you, is the longest segment/chapter in the Bible with 176 verses in it. Most of the verses in that segment deal directly with The Word of God. It refers to how the Psalmist finds himself meditating on The Word. As I read it I couldn’t help but ask, does meditation have a place in our lives now and what does it look like?
Let’s face it: we are busy, busy people. There is always somewhere that we need to get to and we are generally rushing there. There is always a deadline for a project that we need to meet, long nights are normal for us. When I am working, and I don’t think I am alone in this one, we always have something playing in the background. Music or videos of some kind are normally playing while we are busy with something else. On top of this, think about when you are just watching something, how often do you pick up your phone and check your social media or reply to messages? Yes, we are busy and distracted people. We call it multi-tasking and we all think we have mastered it, but none of us really know how to single-task anymore and just focus our attention. So, no wonder meditation seems strange to us. Why would anyone slow down when life looks great at a fast pace? We really should learn to understand the benefits of meditation.
Allow me to define meditation briefly. Firstly, what is Christian meditation? This will help us understand what it is not by comparison.
When I speak about mediation as a Christian I am talking about thinking about the Lord and His promises. Meditation is about focusing and dwelling our thoughts upon one topic and not allowing distraction to take our attention away. A common phrase used is ‘quiet time’ or ‘devotionals’. The way these are simply explained is that time in the day when you read your bible and pray. Well, meditation would be the portion in between your reading and your prayer. It is the time when you bring your thoughts under control and direct your mind into conscious thought about the Lord and His Word.
It is about taking the time to leverage the spiritual life God has given us to enjoy the relationship we can have with Him. Cheesy statement? Maybe. But for real, how often do we take it for granted? We give time to our earthly relationships, but barely spend time considering our God. There is so much to think about and read and pray about! Meditation is the biblical application of the truth in God’s Word as we read it, consider it and then pray about it.
Meditation involves reading His Word intentionally and it involves prayer. It is filling our mind and thinking about the Lord not emptying our minds as other methods try to do.
Here is where we talk about what meditation is not. Many other religions have practises of meditation. Much of the meditation methods you will see around you are influenced by Eastern religion. Simply said the focus of these methods is to discover ‘inner peace’. It is about letting go of our worries and emptying our minds of the busyness. Sometimes this involves chants, sometimes it involves breathing techniques and sometimes, incense. But mainly the difference here is that this focus is on emptying yourself of stress. Whereas Christian meditation is not focused on emptying or on yourself but primarily on the Lord and His word (and how He can fill us up). David Mathis from Desiring God says it like this;