Is the Discipline of Meditation Working in You?
Principle Scriptures on the Discipline of Meditation: Joshua 1:6; Psalm 1:2; 19:14; 63:6; 77:10-12; 119:11, 17-18, 97-102, 148; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Hebrews 2:1
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this Discipline of Meditation from God's most precious Word by examining your life and the passages above. Now ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit a life of meditation in my daily life now?
2. How can I develop the willingness to be a more disciplined person who will meditate on God?
3. What blocks meditation from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I initiate meditation, and discipline myself to carry it out?
5. What can I do to make meditation function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: Gen. 24:63; Psalm 19:14; 39:3; 49:3; 63:5-6; 104:34; 139:15-18; 23, 48, 55, 59, 78, 97-99; 148
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Isa. 59:14-15; Hos. 4:1; John 8:44; Rom. 1:21-22; 2 Pet. 2:10; Rev. 3:20
The Discipline of Meditation basically means we are to focus, ponder, and reflect upon Christ. The discipline aspect of "biblical" Christian meditation means we commit to pay attention to Him, giving Him our total concentration as LORD over us. We are to "contemplate" and "deliberate," which is to put Christ at the center of our attention and will by deliberating on His instructions and comparing them to what comes across our paths in life. This way, we can conform our mindset to replicate His Way, precepts, and call. This will enable us to "rehearse," and make His ways our rehearse and reason, engaging in spiritual growth so He can communicate with us in order to shape and form us. Meditation helps us in our quest to grow in Him. Thus, we can "weigh" and study what God requires of us; then, by our attentiveness and determination, implement the application of what Christ has for us. Meditation subsequently allows us to become more humble-minded, relational, and active in God so we can be better able to lift our heart, will, thinking, and reasoning over to Him and then be better at reflecting and focusing on Him.
What meditation is not is focusing on our feelings, intuition, exercise, detachment, manipulation, or some breathing techniques to get what we want from God or a deeper sense of ourselves. Nor is it "emptying" ourselves, seeking some kind of mantra or a path to attain enlightenment, because we want to "fill" ourselves with the Spirit and His precepts rather than "empty" ourselves! Nor is meditation some esoteric Nirvana to get a hidden meaning or go to a deeper level. God calls us to a deep level as we seek Him, placing Him first by what He has revealed, not seeking something He has not revealed. Emptying ourselves leaves room for the devil's ways and our will to take over. Rather, biblical meditation "fills" our mind and "attaches" us to Christ as in aligning us, focusing us upon our Lord as Lord over all we are and desire to be. Meditation is not difficult or complicated, nor is it for just pious "monasticism;" rather, it is for any Christian desiring more of Him and less of self (John 3:5).
What happens when we do not practice this discipline? We are choosing not to grow closer to our Lord. Or, perhaps we are using an excuse that because others have misused this practice and turned it into what it is not, we are to totally abandon it. In biblical meditation, the foundation is the Lord, who equips us to meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of one another. This discipline is not emptying our mind or evoking some eastern religious or cultist view; rather, it is drawing our attention to Christ-to whom He is and what He has done for us.
1. How would you define the Discipline of Meditation? Are you a person who desires to apply His precepts in a deeper, more inward way? If not, why not?
2. What part does meditation play in your relationships with church members, friends, coworkers, and family? What does pondering on Christ mean to you? How do you practice it? How should you?
3. How does the refusal to focus on Christ counteract God's call? What is the cost to the Kingdom of God when Christians refuse to ponder on Christ as Lord?
4. What happens when your church does not engage in meditation or teach and encourage its people to focus and place Christ first and foremost in their lives?
5. What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you refuse to compare your life, opportunities, and experiences to His Ways and Word?
6. When have you exercised meditation the most? Who reigns over you? Is it Christ or your agenda? What does one's will have to do with the ability to repent?
7. In what situation did you fail to engage in meditation when you should have? What is the cost you have paid or could pay by not repenting?
8. What are the worldly patterns and ideas with which you struggle? If you have done so, how have you conformed to the world's thinking? What are examples of corrupt world thinking?
9. How would meditation help you in distinguishing between what is bad and what is good in life? What would real, authentic meditation look like in your life?
10. What issue is in your life that would improve with more meditation?
11. Take the time to ponder what the real reasons are that you do not spend as much time growing in your faith as you should?
12. Think through the steps that you need to take to put meditation into action in a specific instance. For example, how can you use this Discipline of Meditation to improve your spiritual life and relationship with Christ and others? What would your life look like if you were more contemplative with your faith¾that is, more prayerful and thoughtful with the reason, trust, action, and understanding that faith requires? Try to pray through the Scriptures. Consider a passage from those recommend below and then think it through on a deeper level so you have a real existential (deep rooted) understanding that will help produce a deeper change in your life. (This means who you are in personality and how you change when you react to others and situations.) What would that mean? What would it look like?
Biblical, Christian meditation is a call to be both discursive (active, as in applying our faith), and non-discursive (passive, as in to learn and be reflective), and open to the Spirit, as each helps the other. Thus, biblical meditation points us to a deepening, reflective love of His power, wisdom, beauty, joy, light, peace, freedom, and holiness. This positions us in our faith to go deeper in our relationship with Him with a sense of wonder for the purpose of gaining deeper biblical and spiritual insights (that never contradict His Word).
Meditation is a crucial exercise that dynamically turns our minds around and over to God's Word and call. It is about our focus as we ponder and reflect on Christ so we are better able to apply His precepts in a deeper, more inward way. In so doing, we offer to our Lord our hearts as we listen and reflect on His Word. Yet, many reactionary Christians may think that meditation is wrong and associate it with some psychological or emotional trick, and thus think it is bad for us. (However, this describes the non-biblical and non-Christian meditation.) While other Christians, who are seeking to grow deeper, put their focus on the teachings of monastic ideas (that can be very helpful and insightful- if compared with the Bible), and thus focus on what is not important or what is error. There are legitimate reasons to be suspicious of meditation. What we must be aware of are the "Eastern forms" of meditation that seek our "true self," or a "cosmic consciousness" where we are taught to "empty ourselves," or seeking something outside of God's Way and plan. Many "Emerging Church" Christians are confusing Eastern with biblical meditation and are giving people a confused and even an unbiblical education on this.
Nevertheless, we need to be discerning of what is error on this subject of meditation, and place our focus on the Bible's teaching about contemplation and not "throw the baby out with the bath," missing this very insightful way to grow in our faith. The Bible clearly tells us over fifty times to meditate, thus indicating that this is important. However, this is not "Transcendental Meditation" or the practice of the "New Age" movement, nor is it sitting in a yoga position and saying "ohm." Rather, biblical meditation is called for so we can redirect ourselves to Christ; it is the clear-minded, attentive reaction to His instructions such as encountering Him by anchoring ourselves to His Word, pursuing and obeying His principles and applying them to our lives, so they are not just academic ideas but a lifestyle we endeavor and delight to fulfill (Psalm 19:7; Isa. 55:8; Jer. 17:5-10; Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). Our goal is to become more mature in our faith; the biblical, theological makeup of meditation helps us seek Him first so we can enter His living presence to commune with Him (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 12:1-2; 14:17).
What happens when we practice this Discipline of Meditation?
Biblical, Christian meditation helps us produce a more intimate relationship in Christ so we are not superficial with our faith and study, giving us the ability to trust Him more fully and be extra obedient. This refocuses us from our agendas and thinking and the ways of the world. As a result, we ponder upon God's Word, His nature, His abilities, and His works. Meditation helps us "quiet" ourselves (i.e. the noise of our will and aspirations), so we can think on God. When we have a calm heart, we become better prepared to grow in and know Him, and do the work He calls us to do.
· Meditation aligns our thoughts to His Way, helping establish our character and maturity, overcoming our negative thoughts because what we think on is what we behave on; thus, meditation is very important!
· Meditation helps us to be focused on God's word. Psalm 119:105 tells us God's word is a "light unto our path." God's will, or God's path, is paved with His word and our understanding and obedience of that word. It is our responsibility to make God's word the primary focus of our lives and not an afterthought or an "I'll do it when I have time to do it." It must be number one on our "to do" list. A good, classic way to do this is to use the Bible as a prayer guide. All you do is read and pray. This, in classic Christianity, is called Meditatio Scripturarum meaning "mediating on Scripture," or the Lectio Divina, meaning "reading the Divine" or "praying in Scripture." These practices date back to the Early Church and the Middle Ages. This is not study or exegesis, which is always good to do first; rather, it is internalizing what the Bible is telling us. The primary purpose is to gain more from a passage with "reflective prayer." To do this type of meditation, choose a Bible verse, read it several times and ponder on it over and over in your mind. You will be amazed at how much you will memorize and know, then grow. The Psalms and the Epistles of John are a good place to start with this.
· Meditation is first and foremost our reflection on Christ; it is not just listening to our own needs and desires; it is also giving genuine contemplation to God's Word and His call to respond to others.
· Meditation is seeking guidance for life in and from God's law rather than in the planning from ours and others sinful nature.
· Meditation is on God (Psalm 19:14) because we need to focus our thoughts on who God is! We also need to know His attributes. Knowing who God is will enable and help us to focus on our trust in and relationship with Christ! Knowing who God is will allow us to praise Him more effectively!
· God has given us a wonderful gift-our minds! We have the ability to process information and to discern our situation. Still, this is a difficult task. We tend to prefer the easy way out, which does not involve too much thought. This is a result of our fast-paced and fast-food society, where we want the burger NOW! We want our information now, too. Meditation slows us down so we can absorb more of Him in our lives!
· The mark of spiritual persons is that they seek to know more about the Lord and finding His will. It is up to us to meditate and focus our hearts, minds, and souls on who God is by his attributes, by our praise to Him, and by the leading of His Holy Spirit. Out of this must come obedience and righteousness. We are called to live our lives as led from the mouth of God. God means for us to act upon what He reveals to us.
· Relationships are built as we listen to God's Word and align ourselves according to His foundation. He equips us to meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of one another. So, we are not just listening to our own needs and desires, but also giving genuine contemplation to God's Word and His call to respond to others. Meditation helps us center upon Him and away from what is distracting and wrong.
How to Begin Meditation
To begin, pick a passage and meditate on that passage so you are not just studying it, but also allowing it to impact you. Reflect on it, ponder it, and think on it so that you are seriously repeating the passage in your mind. Then, the memorization and application will become easier since the verses will have taken root in you!
· Desire - You have to want to seek Him out for a deeper, personal relationship. First of all, you need to want to pray, to hear His voice, and then meditate as a form of worship (Psalm 27:8)! Start by asking God to give you understanding through the Spirit and His Word.
· Decision - Give meditation your priority time. Daniel did (Daniel 6:1-3; 10). Jesus did (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:39-46). Make your appointment with God and make your commitment to carry out His call and principles in your daily life; allow the Bible to become the guideline for your life and practice.
· Determination - Make a commitment to focus your thinking upon His Word and on reflection, then resolve to keep it up. Learning to meditate is like learning a new language. It takes time, effort, and use. Do not be discouraged; we are all beginners at meditation.
· Expectation- God will be there to receive you (Luke 11:13; Heb. 4:16). He is gracious, good, eager, and responsive. Come to enjoy Him, to be with Him, and He with you. Use of contemplation, hymnals, devotional guides, etc. are good also.
· Have a place for meditation free from distractions and stress. Jesus did (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:39).
· Listen for God's Word to impact you. This is the key; first quiet your mind and open your will to Him (Matt. 4:4; John 15:7; 2 Tim, 3:16-17).
· Meditation is an aspect of worship and prayer; so, do so specifically (Mark 10:50-52; Phil. 4:6). Make faith-sized requests persistently (Luke 11:5-10˜ 18:1-8; Matt. 26:36-46). Pour out your heart to Him, freely and fully (Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46). Do so with confidence and gratitude (Phil, 4:6-7; I Thess, 5:16-18).
Meditation may mean we have to get away from the noise, stress, hurry, and crowds as Jesus modeled (Matt. 4:1-11; 14:13; 17:1-9; 26:36-46; Mark. 1:35; 6:31; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 2 Cor. 4:6). Our will often confuses what we think is urgent with what He says is urgent. Noise and busyness often sidetrack us from what Christ has for us; as He went away to be with the Father, so must we. We need times to reflect, ponder, and seek His fellowship so we can be further instructed and empowered to serve and glorify Him more. We need to seek the most important healing of all, that of our soul. We need to allow Jesus to touch us so our faith comes alive, and our virtue becomes evident to those around us. Does God have to get you away from the crowd so He can meet your needs?
Begin your meditation with these passages: Joshua 1:8; 1 Samuel 12:23; Psalms; Jeremiah 15:16; 29:13; Hosea 10:12; Mathew 6:33; John 15:1-5; Romans 12; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 4:6; 5:20; 1 Timothy 4:15; Hebrews 5:12-14; 11:6; 13:15; James 1:5; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 John 4:10; 19