Christian Meditation

I have a young friend who asked me recently what he thought might be “a strange question: Do Christians ever meditate?”

I thought I’d share my answer:

Of course Christians meditate!  I do it all the time. 

Many Evangelical Christians seem to avoid the terminology because they think it may connote some new age philosophy, or mysticism, or Eastern religion.  At the same time, they will tell you that they spend “quiet time” with God every day.

In some respects, I essentially consider meditation as the flip side of prayer.  Prayer is speaking to God, meditation is listening to Him.

Consider these passages from the Scriptures:

  • “Isaac went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching.” Gen. 24:63
  • “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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.” Josh. 1:8
  • “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psa. 1:2
  • “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psa. 19:14
  • “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” Psa. 63:6
  • “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” Psa. 77:12
  • “May my meditation of him be sweet, as I rejoice in the LORD.” Psa. 104:34
  • “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psa. 119:15
  • “Though rulers sit together and slander me,  your servant will meditate on your decrees.” Psa. 119:23
  • “I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.” Psa. 119:48
  • “May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.” Psa. 119:78
  • “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Psa. 119:97
  • “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” Psa. 119:99
  • “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Psa. 119:148
  • “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” Psa. 143:5

Now, it’s important to note the content of the meditation.  It’s all about reflecting on the person of God, His nature, His character, His magnificent works, His commands, His precepts, His statues, His promises, etc.

In fact, it seems to me that the entirety of Psalm 8 is a meditation.  David essentially says (this is a very loose paraphrase): “When I meditate on the vastness and beauty of the cosmos, what is man, that God would show him such special attention and favor us with His presence?” 

I think this is what makes many Christians uneasy with the concept of meditation: It has become about self-awareness, calming ourselves in a chaotic world, personal spiritual enlightenment.  All of those things are “me” centered, when the Biblical concept of meditation is intrinsically and always God centered.  Modern notions of mediation are about looking inside ourselves, while the Biblical model is about looking outside ourselves.

My personal practice is to spend time in prayer before I read or study the Scriptures, asking God to speak to me, to teach me, to conform me to His Son, through reading and meditating on His word.  Then I read.  But my tendency is to read like a student (or maybe even like a lawyer :-)), an active (aggressive?) kind of reading.  Do you know what I mean there?  I’m trying to digest something, find information, process it, organize it, analyze it, structure it.  And I can’t help that.  It’s my nature, it’s my training … that’s just me and that’s just what I do.  So it’s a helpful corrective for me to simply  take some time and just let God’s word soak in, to percolate a bit.  I can chew on it for a while (btw – the Hebrew word for “meditate” refers to a cow bringing up her cud to chew on it).  It’s just time to reflect on and contemplate what this all says about God, who He is, what He’s done, what He’s like. And it just happens to encompass how that all applies to me, too.

So, if meditation is somehow not Christian, you’ll have to vote me off the island.  But I’ll be OK with that, as doing so would just allow me more quiet time with the Lord. 🙂

gkr1996 posted at 2010-4-19 Category: Theological