“Christians aren’t supposed to meditate.”
That’s what a girl told me once at church. She disagreed with the pastor who was talking about his practice of meditating. At the time of this declaration, I was a mere one year into my faith. And to be honest, I had no idea if Christians were supposed to meditate or not.
Though, I thought it had some merit at the time.
Years later, I would go on to learn about many disciplines of the Christian life. From my personal bible study to books and sermons, there was a lot to be said about how Christians are supposed to live.
First and foremost, we are supposed to follow Jesus. Be led by the Holy Spirit and work to live in step with the will of God.
Yet, there are many nuances that we could learn about daily life. Ways to show Jesus to people, learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, and even know the will of God. One of these ways to do this was through meditation.
Now, a lot of times we hear people talk about “Christian” Meditation. Like all of Christiandom, we need to bend a “secular” thing to our Christian subculture. Before I go any further, I must address the obnoxious tendency.
If God made everything in the world then secular thought can be shadows of what his intention was for the world. Sure, some of the culture today doesn’t reflect anything about God or His Kingdom. However, there is plenty we can see from him in a secular culture.
That said, we do not need to call the practice of meditation, “Christian” when it is discussed within the realms of our faith. What we do need to understand is that mediation when it is part of our spiritual disciplines looks different than what we see in the world.
Meditation vs. Biblical Mediation
First off, mediation is a very general term for a lot of ways to find peace and self. There are several popular ways to meditate and they stem from many backgrounds. However, mediation generally works to do this:
The practice of mediation is not about suppressing thought, but surpassing it.” — Victor Davich, author of 8-Minute Mediation.
The idea is to be more focused on clearing your mind and becoming hyper-aware. Most of the time, this is followed by breathing exercises that help you remove thoughts from your mind while you meditate.
And while this does help remove stress and give your body more oxygen, it does not help bring solutions to problems. It simply removes you from them until meditation is over.
When we look at the bible, meditation isn’t about clearing our minds. It is about filling our minds with the presence of God, His kingdom, and what a breakthrough can look like in our lives.
When Christians think about meditation, they think about it in the general terms of clearing their minds. Exercising some sort of breathing ritual or doing “Om’s.”
However, when we engage in the spiritual discipline of meditation it looks much different than what we see in the world around us.
The Spiritual Discipline of Meditation
Meditation is found all over the Bible. We can read about it in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. It seems that God has a lot to say about the spiritual discipline of mediation for our lives.
I am going to walk through five spots in scripture that help us understand the spiritual discipline of mediation for the Christian life.
Joshua 1:8 — Meditate on it Day and Night
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” — Joshua 1:8 (NLT)
The book of instruction referenced here was the traditional Torah which was written by Moses. These are the books from the Bible known as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
In all of these books, there is significant information about the way God had called the nation of Israel to live. This would make sense as God also advised that it would be in these books that they would prosper and succeed.
For Christians, the book of instruction would be the entirety of the Bible, Old Testament, and New Testament. As we engage our minds in the Bible, we will start to experience transformation in the way we think which will help us to know God better.
This is why, we too, need to meditate on the Bible day and night.
Philippians 4:8 — Fix Your Thoughts
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” — Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Meditation in the Biblical sense is focused on thinking about the things that God would think about. The things that would be ‘worthy of praise.’ In doing this, we would fix our thoughts on the things of God’s Kingdom.
While there are many aspects to God’s Kingdom, there are specifics that God wants us to know through the letter to the Philippians.
He wants us to focus on the truth from God. He wants us to show honor to those around us. He wants us to think of righteous things and have pure thoughts about ourselves and others. He also encourages us to think of things that are lovely and admirable, in other words, beautiful.
God wants us to step into who we are and who we are in His sight so we can share that with others. This is why we are to fix our thoughts on these good things.
Romans 12:2 — Change the Way You Think
“Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” — Romans 12:2 (NLT)
The transformation of who we are as people rely on meditation. It comes in the form of changing our thinking through God’s word as we learned earlier as well as focusing on the things God has for us.
As we begin to focus on these things, we begin to change.
The change we experience draws us closer to God. It helps us see identity in Jesus. It helps us see the Kingdom of God here on earth. And it helps us bring Jesus to the lives of others in a way that would be pleasing to God.
When we meditate on the Bible and spend time focusing on God and the things that he loves it helps bring true change to our lives.
Psalm 104:34 — Pleasing to God
“May my mediation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” — Psalm 104:34 (NIV)
When we meditate on what God wants us to be thinking about it will be pleasing to God. This can come in the form of focusing on the Bible, praising God for who He is, or simply taking in the beauty of the world around us.
The importance of our meditation and it is pleasing to God is for us to begin to understand God’s will (Romans 12:2).
When we meditate on other things or focus completely on ourselves, it detracts from our ability to renew our minds and connect with the will of God.
This is why we must consider what our time looks like and if God would be pleased with it.
Psalm 143:5 — Mediate on all Your Works
“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” — Psalm 143:5 (NIV)
Another way we can meditate is by focusing on the things God has done. When we focus on the testimonies of what God has done in our lives it builds our faith. We will continue to trust God in all the difficult circumstances of life.
If you don’t have a lot of places where God has worked in your life before, the best way to start is by reading the accounts of what God did for His people in the Bible.
Read Genesis and Exodus and see the way God worked things out for Israel even though things were stacked against them.
Or, you will likely have heard of a time when people have been healed or someone received a word from God gave them at just the right time. Listen to these stories with this mindset:
“Hey, this could happen to me!”
When we hear these stories, meditate on them. Thank God for them. Praise Him for these stories and events. And begin to believe they could be done for you too. Because our faith builds on what God has done for us and for all of humanity.
Take hold of these stories.
Meditation is to help us grow closer to God, increase our faith, and change the way we see the world. As we begin to spend time meditating on the things God has called us to think about we will see life change. We will begin to understand what God has for us.
Meditation, when it relates to your faith in Jesus, is about focusing on who God is and what He has done. Not about what we are doing or thinking about as much.