“‘Lord, teach us to pray’ is the beginning.
Only Jesus can teach you.”
Meditation reveals both our sin nature and God’s righteousness. Holy Spirit conviction happens here in meditation. In this space, longings surface for transformation, for shalom, for complete healing and wholeness, for coming home to Jesus—the deepest, most satisfying desires. If human purpose is to love God and enjoy Him forever, this is the place where learning to love and enjoy God is experienced—not by doing but by His being through our “be”ing.
Biblical meditation has an object. Biblical meditation brings us to an awareness of who God is & who we’re not.
Christian Meditation vs. Eastern Meditation
- Filling up vs. emptying
- Jesus descends vs. we transcend
- Renewing mind vs. raising psychic consciousness
Biblical meditation is scriptural (that is, until knowledge of God and scripture is solid). The slow, savoring of scripture is the perfect place to begin memorization!
Scriptural meditation extends to:
• Ancient creeds such as the Nicene Creed, Apostles Creed, Westminster Catechism (“What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
- Live of the saints/mystics (HY Masters’ program!)
What Biblical Meditation Is Not
Meditation does not mean we ascend or transcend. Jesus descends to us! He is the One who stoops!
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NIV
Meditation does not fix standing before a holy God. Jesus on the cross did that. The work has already been done. No mantras or magical incantations are needed because there is already a High Priest and a mediator.
Meditation is not the end. God moves when he wants—not just in our prayer closets. Meditation is not an end in itself. When we allow God to train our minds to stay put during meditation, our recovery time of the heart muscle in the in-between spaces is quick. Our defaults reset to follow after the mind of Christ. Meditation is only the beginning.
Meditation is not a matter of shutting off the mind. The conscious thought and rational mind are both involved in meditation, although there is a great deal of Spirit activity that will never be cognated.
“My mouth will speak wisdom; and the meditation of my heart will be understanding.” Psalm 49:3
“Of course He is giving us a new mind! That’s exactly what He’s after!” Romans 12:2
It’s not people’s business to know what goes on in the innermost spaces between themselves and God. The Spirit-to-Spirit activity takes place beneath the surface. Unexplainable. Unfathomable. God is literally molding and changing the contour of the heart. People don’t get to have a say in how meditation should look or what should stay or go. Similar to cranial-sacral bodywork, meditation is an opening in order for Spirit flow!
Precautions in Meditation
It is important to be aware of pantheism—the thinking that God and the material world are one and the same. Pantheists say “God is the sum total of all there is. He is not a separate being somewhere beyond the world; rather, all of the material world, everyone and everything it is part of the Divine” (The Mystical Maze, Means). This is simply not true—God is separate! He chooses to dwell, he chose to enter in, and he made himself a human, yet Jesus was completely divine, set apart as holy!
It helps to learn verbiage for meditation (particularly transcendental meditation) such as:
It is critical to test everything with Scripture—even the mystics! A biblical defense for meditation says that there is a personal nature of God where people can’t experience God’s love or see their own sin without the knowledge that they are sinning against someone. People must understand Christ as divine and have a need to be rescued by the ultimate Truth. To be transformed by God without it being personal is a contradiction!
“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.”—St. Benedict
Begin your time in silence. Let go of the thoughts that flood your mind. Calm your mind and your soul. Focus on your breath and be still within. Ask God to guide your thoughts.
Choose a Scripture passage and ask God to speak to you. Read slowly and prayerfully and pause where the text leads you. Be still. Read the passage(s) again, listening intently. As you read, incorporate time within each passage to listen.
Pray and write. The following questions may help direct writing:
- What IDEAS permeate in your mind?
- What IMAGES are most vivid?
- What QUESTIONS arise from the text?
- What EMOTIONS are elicited?
- What are you THANKFUL for about this passage?
- How is God SPEAKING to you?
Write in conversation with God, letting the thoughts transfer themselves to ink and paper without stopping to read and criticize what you’re writing. Take time to LISTEN and write until your thoughts diminish.
- Close your prayer time, thanking God for the gift of prayer and Holy Scripture. Be mindful throughout the day of His presence.
Additional Soul Care Exercises
Consider the many names God uses to reveal himself to us. Which of these names identifies where God is your life right now? Talk to God about what this revelation of who he is means to you. Use this name when you pray.
If you could say anything to God, what would it be?
Choose a Psalm to be the source of your inspiration or write your own Psalm. Psalms express every possible emotion we wrestle with. raw with God.
Read a book, a devotional book, or a passage of scripture. Read slowly. Read for transformation rather than information. When a word stands out or lights up, stop. Let the word roll around in your heart. Do not read any more. Meditate on what you have read.
Explore the possibilities for your own life of what God may have in store for you. Dream big. Talk to God about this. Journal. Make a list. Relish the moments of dreaming together. Use Malachi 3:10-12 as a scripture reference.
Intentionally place yourself in the presence of God, then do something you delight in: go for a walk, take a nap, talk to a friend, have a cup of coffee, play a game. Enjoy yourself in God. Receive the gift of rest. Tell God what happens in you as you try to rest. (Psalm 46:10)
Want to learn more about Christian meditation? This blog is an excerpt from our Therapy training, and we invite you to check out our upcoming Therapy training here!