How should one meditate as a Christian? When Christians do not consider meditation a spiritual practice, they miss out on the benefits integrating meditation into their spiritual lives can provide. Scripture reveals that meditation is an integral component of Christianity. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, finding moments of peace and stillness has become more challenging.
For many Christians, meditation can be as simple as memorizing Scripture, thinking of its meaning, and keeping it present in their minds. Meditation can be a powerful tool for Christians to discover a deeper connection with God.
In this article, we will explore the practice of Christian meditation, techniques for meditation, common challenges, and how to integrate meditation into daily life.
Understanding Christian Meditation
The intention of all forms of meditation is to help a person become calmer and more focused. Today, many practice meditation as a form of self-care, especially in Western cultures. However, Eastern culture prioritizes meditation in order to become less connected with physicality and merge with the universe. Christian meditation differs in that the ultimate goal is a closer relationship with God through the process of sanctification. Through the integration of Scripture and focus on faith, Christian meditation fills the soul with the ideas of God to develop godly character and ways of thinking.
God’s Word is the most distinct element of Christian meditation. Several passages of scripture encourage times of stillness, contemplation, and peace. Christians are to use meditative time to fill their minds with God’s truth, rather than empty themselves into the universe. The Hebrew word hagah is used over 25 times in the Old Testament and is translated into English as meditate or muse. Many times, hagah is also associated with the idea of speaking and groaning.
Biblical meditation is not always silent. Instead, it can include the audible processing of thoughts. Meditation is complementary to prayer. The two often occur simultaneously as one considers the ideas of God and prays them back to Him. Faith guides Christians to trust in God’s presence in these moments, and that He can reveal meaning to them.
Meditation in the Bible
The Old Testament
Christian meditation finds its roots in the Bible, with numerous examples of individuals seeking God through reflective practices. From the psalmist’s meditation on God’s Word to Jesus’ withdrawal into solitude for prayer, the Scriptures provide a solid foundation for this practice. Below are some examples of Scripture that encourage meditation:
- Psalms 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
- Joshua 1:8 “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
- Psalms 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
- Psalms 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
The New Testament
Meditation is also a key aspect of the New Testament. Meditative practices in the New Testament urge Christians to turn their minds to God in order to determine His direction and plan.
- Colossians 3:1-3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”
- Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
- Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God’s Word echoes what many counselors and therapists say today—your thoughts are what you become. By “fixing our eyes” and “setting our hearts” on things above, Christians can become more like Christ. Those “things above” may be Scripture, but they can also be anything that meets the description outlined within Philippians 4:8. Anything honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, praiseworthy, or excellent is worthy of meditation. By filling their minds with good, true, and beautiful ideas, Christians can learn more about their Creator and his desires for the world. Christian meditation allows for the connection between art and faith.
Preparation for Christian Meditation
Creating the right environment is essential for fruitful meditation practices. A key component of meditation is to have an open mind for God to use. While there is no required amount of time or designated place to meditate, Christians should select a quiet and peaceful space where distractions can be minimized.
Think about your routine. Are you typically a morning person or a night owl? When do you think the most clearly? Is there a time of day when you consistently take a break? Establishing a regular meditation routine during a specific time of day can allow one to consistently integrate the practice into one’s life.
After considering your typical routine, determine which time of day would be best to meditate. Meditation can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. During this designated time, remove all external distractions (such as technology or excessive noise) and cultivate a receptive mindset. Think about the characteristics of humility and surrender and let go of any preconceived notions or expectations you have for this time.
Meditation is not about winning God’s favor. Christians can practice meditation even when the location is not ideal. Many Christians meditate in the car on their way to work, in line at the grocery store, or in the waiting room at appointments. Although there are benefits to meditating in peaceful, designated environments, God is always available and present. Try to limit distraction as best as possible and focus your attention on His presence.
Techniques for Christian Meditation
There are many techniques Christians use to meditate. But, here are four to consider.
Focus on Scripture
The emphasis on Scripture is a key differentiator between Christian meditation and other forms of meditation. Many times meditation begins immediately after reading a passage of Scripture. Choose a passage or a verse and begin meditating on it. This can mean repeating the verse audibly or silently as you consider the meaning of the text. Today, there are also meditation apps that will guide Christians through thinking about Scripture.
Many Christians will choose verses that speak to their current situation. For example, if a Christian is struggling with worry, they might choose a verse like Matthew 6:28 which says, “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” A simple Google search of “verses for worry” or any other struggle can provide Biblical passages for meditation.
Consider God’s faithfulness in your life
Psalms 143:5 says, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” This verse encourages Christians to consider the previous works of God as part of their meditation time. Times of reflection are important for Christians to recognize the direction God is guiding and how it relates to past experiences. Looking back on their lives allows many Christians to uncover new meanings within their past or discover new opportunities for moving forward.
Many Christians will pray the psalms or other passages of Scripture back to God. This is meditative, but can also lead to spontaneous prayers or conversations with God. While pondering a passage of Scripture, Christians may ask questions to God or reason out connections between the passage and other sections of Scripture or life experiences.
Breath and Body Awareness
Breath and body awareness are important in all forms of meditation. In Christian meditation, breathing and body awareness create physical anchors for when the mind begins to wander. When you think about your breathing and your body, you can uncover areas of tension as you’re thinking. These points may signal thoughts that should be further explored or released to God. Focusing on the body during meditation allows Christians to consider what God is doing within them. It also promotes feelings of calmness and peace that make meditation a restorative practice.
Overcoming Challenges in Christian Meditation
One of the most common challenges in Christian meditation is dealing with distractions and wandering thoughts. A key strategy for mitigating this challenge is to acknowledge the distraction without judging yourself. Meditation is a hard practice, especially when beginning the practice. Embracing distractions as opportunities for growth can help cultivate patience and resilience moving forward. Sometimes it only takes a few moments and other times it may feel nearly impossible to cleanse yourself from distractions and stressful thoughts. Use prayer to redirect your focus and call attention back to the focal point. Meditation is a form of offering to God and should be encouraged by every attempt to find a deeper connection with God.
Others are challenged by feelings of resistance or skepticism toward the practice of meditation. They often find themselves asking “What’s the point?” or “Is this really doing anything?” These questions create a barrier to the learning experience that is an essential component of meditation. Reflecting on the benefits of meditation, such as increased peace, clarity, and deeper connection with God, can help to overcome this challenge.
How to Integrate Meditation into Daily Life
The benefits of meditation extend beyond the practice itself. Applying mindfulness to everyday activities, such as eating, walking, or interacting with others, brings a sense of presence and gratitude. Nurturing a deeper relationship with God through meditation involves incorporating prayer and reflection into daily routines, seeking His guidance in decision-making, and cultivating a spirit of openness and surrender.
There are many practical ways that Christians remind themselves to meditate throughout the day. Some set verses of Scripture as the lock screens on their phone or place sticky notes in strategic locations around their homes. Others practice meditation as they are falling asleep at night. Christians can look for key moments of stillness and quiet to connect with God and practice what Philippians calls “praying without ceasing.”
Meditation should not be scary to Christians. At its heart, meditation is community with God, considering His Words, and allowing him to direct the path. It is a time to savor God’s word and “hide it within the heart.”
Christians have identified the following benefits to practicing meditation: character changes, embodiment of fruits of the Spirit, less anxiety, more peace, a stronger desire to serve and give, and a deeper love toward God and others.
Christian meditation offers a transformative journey for believers seeking a closer relationship with God. By understanding its biblical basis, preparing the mind and environment, adopting various techniques, and persisting through challenges, Christians can experience the profound benefits of this practice. As Christians embark on this journey, they should remember that consistent practice, coupled with faith and openness, will lead to a deeper connection with God and a more meaningful spiritual life. Embrace the art of Christian meditation and witness its transformative power in your own life.
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