Meditation is a practice that is almost more familiar to our culture today than prayer. In some instances, it is more politically correct than prayer, because prayer is so often associated with a Judeo-Christian worldview, while meditation is not seen as a practice that is confined to any particular “religion”. Tell someone that you meditate, and the mental image of a skinny old man sitting with legs crossed and eyes closed on the top of a mountain may come to mind. Is that the picture of meditation that we find in Scripture?
Is meditation still a valid spiritual discipline for Christians, and if so, what should it look like? Well, as with anything else, we must turn to Scripture itself to find any help. Read the following scriptures, and note how the word “meditation” is being used. What is being meditated upon? How should meditation take place, and when is the meditation taking place?
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.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD ;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. (12) I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long. (98) Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me. (99) I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word. (148) My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
From these (and other verses), we can draw the following principles about Biblical meditation:
1. Its not about emptying our mind
It is completely different from a transcendental Eastern meditation. Eastern meditation is an “emptying of your mind”, while Biblical meditation is a focusing of your mind. As we read the various texts that deal with meditation, we see that the focus is exclusively on one of three things: the attributes of God, the works and activities of God, and the Word of God.
2. Use the Philippians 4:8 filter
Our meditation, the things we think intently on, should be “pleasing to the Lord”. If what we are thinking intently on is not pleasing to the Lord then it is not Biblical meditation, and we should take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Philippians 4:8 gives us a great filter through which to pass the content of our thought life:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
3. Meditation is aided by Memorization
We are to meditate at all times, including “all day and night”. How can we meditate all day and night if we have not planted His Word deeply into our thought life? So, scripture memory and meditation go hand-in-hand, and complement one another. Meditation on scripture helps us to memorize it, and memorizing scripture keeps it in our mind so that it can be recalled and “meditated on” even when we don’t have our Bible with us.
4. Should be motivated by love for God
Meditation should not be a forced discipline. In reading through the above scripture you get a sense that one should do it out of love. We love the Word of God so much, that we can’t help but meditate on it. We love God so much, that we can’t help but meditate on His amazing attributes and works.
In your daily quiet times, as you encounter the Lord through your reading of His Word. Don’t get so caught up in getting through your “assigned” meeting that you miss what God is trying to say to you. Meditation requires slowing down and allowing Him to speak to you. Read, and ponder. Picture what you’re reading, and listen to the Holy Spirit. Chew on the words, chew on the principles, and get every last ounce of nutrients out of this nutrient-rich Book!