I have written before about the discipline of meditation, but a recent conversation with a friend encouraged me to dig a bit deeper. Meditation simply speaks of the action of engaging in contemplation or reflection. Unfortunately, some have avoided it due to wrongly associating the practice as mystical or somehow new age. This is not to say that it hasn’t been used by some in ways not helpful to the believer. But, I believe avoiding the practice of meditation because of the baggage it carries in the minds of many in our culture is a mistake. It is time to take back this discipline and practice it as the Bible instructs.
The Bible encourages us to meditate on God, His Word, and His works. The psalmist writes, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways” (Psa 119:15). Also, in Psalm 143, we read, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands” (Psa 143:5). The Bible mentions meditation specifically twenty-three times, nineteen times in the Book of Psalms alone. It alludes to it countless other times with words such as “consider” and “ponder.”
It’s common when someone is speaking about meditation to hear phrases like “empty yourself” or “clear your mind.” These phrases in and of themselves are not wrong but often mean to enter some mystic state of nothingness. This is not how a believer ought to think of emptiness. The believer’s goal is not to reach some transcendental state but to empty self of all distractions so that a focused, quiet reflection on God, His Word, and His works can occur.
I do this in part every day as I approach God’s Word, the Bible. I prayerfully study a particular passage in Scripture, asking the Spirit to guide me as I make some observations about the text. Then, I take some time to meditate on the passage to discover an application for my daily living. This leads me to a time of praying the passage over my life. As I seek to master God’s Word, I desire for it to master me.
When out and about in God’s creation, I like to be mindful (meditate) on God’s works. There’s something special and quite powerful about pausing and taking in the creative power of God. It draws me to reflect on His working in the world, my family, church family, and in my own life. I am often reminded that the God who spoke the world into existence is still present and active in the world and in my very own life.
I have heard people say that meditation “centers” them. I have to agree. However, the centering the Scriptures would encourage us to find is on Christ. If meditation has any calming effect, and I find it often does, it is due to its usefulness in realigning my thoughts and focus on the Lord. Stress increases when I am out of focus, picturing a present and future without the Lord’s presence and hand at work. When I realign with the Lord, focused on Christ, I am empowered to walk in step with the Spirit. It makes all the difference, relieving stress and inviting me to rest in the Lord as I walk through the highs and lows of life. Thus, meditation has become an important part of my walk with the Lord.
Let me encourage each of us to pick up the discipline of meditation. Regularly, let us reflect on God, His Word, and His works. Don’t let the world rob us of this powerful spiritual discipline. Instead, I challenge us to reclaim it for the Lord. Let our meditations be pleasing to God, as we rejoice in the Lord (Psa 104:34). Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!