Guest Post by Emily Darnell
More than ever, our generation needs to remember some of the ‘ancient paths’ that bring sweet refreshment to our souls. Christian Meditation as a spiritual discipline is one such path. But how do we meditate as a Christian? Today’s guest post by Emily Darnell walks us through the “what” and the “how” of Christian meditation.
Christian Meditation is vastly different from wordly ideas of meditation or mindfulness.
Without devoting too much time to what those wordly forms are, note that they usually involve “emptying” your mind, focusing on a mantra so as to “forget all else”, and trying to bring heart, mind, body and soul into line with something–and here the various world religions or spiritual movements or mysticism or yoga practices all diverge with what that “something” is.
Wordly Meditation: Get Empty. Christian Meditation: Get Full.
We do not meditate to be empty, but rather to be more aware of our union with Christ, seeking the fullness of life that He promises. Christian meditation is a means of abiding in His Word, and in His love (see John 14-17). Meditation will allow your thoughts, affections, and will to come in line with God’s desires for you; while combatting the mindset the world invites us into–one that is fragmented and based on twitter length thoughts. Meditating on Scripture, on God’s words and works, allows our minds to be renewed, able to delight in God’s deep and rich truth. Too much time in social media has made it difficult to set our minds on Scripture, or fill our thoughts with God’s truth and goodness. Meditation is a time for us to focus on the Word, reading and re-reading and letting it permeate our minds.
Meditation Doesn’t End with Quiet Time
Throughout the day we do not cease to think. We are either directing our thoughts or finding our thoughts wandering aimlessly. Learning to meditate by focusing on the Word will enable you to turn your thoughts at other times into meditations, even if you cannot sit and read. While waiting in line, while performing habitual tasks, while enjoying a walk or jog, rather than letting your thoughts and imaginations run amok you can purpose to think about Scriptures you’ve already meditated on. Christian Meditation, those purposeful thoughts on the Scriptures, can enliven your prayers. Jesus taught His disciples that abiding in His Word would lead to fruitful prayers (see John 15:5-8).
You Can Practice Christian Meditation…Right Now!
The promises of Romans 8 can be a great first meditation and one that shows us our great need for this spiritual discipline. Remember that “flesh” in this passage refers to our old sinful nature and way of thinking, not to bodily flesh.
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God [to put the old deeds of the flesh to death] , these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:6, 14-18
Set aside ten minutes to read this slowly, two or three times. Then read it, putting emphasis on different words. Perhaps try one verse at a time. “For the mind set on the flesh is…” “For the mind set on the flesh is…” “For the mind set on the flesh is…” “…but the mind set on the Spirit…” “…set on the Spirit is life and peace.” “…is life and peace.”
Meditation Brings Peace
Life and peace. Abundant, flourishing life; the deepest desire of our hearts. Setting your mind purposefully, meditating on His Word, brings your heart deeper into that abundant, peaceful, life. As you read slowly, focusing on individual words, think about the meaning of the words, and about other passages that address those ideas. Let your mind enjoy the imagery used in the Scriptures you are meditating on. (For example, Deuteronomy 33:27 and John 10:29; take time to imagine God’s strong arms and hands holding you)
Meditation is mentioned quite often in the Psalms, and other Old Testament books. The Hebrew word for meditating entails an intense effort to remember and gather together the thoughts. Imagine leaving your tea bag in to steep; we are the cup and the tea bag is God’s word. We cannot let it steep without time, without attention, or while our thoughts are scattered. Meditation is something we grow into. Make a start, let it become part of your daily life, and years later you will find it so delightful that you will forget you ever had to train your mind to focus.
Other ideas for beginning the practice of meditation:
John 6, 10, and 15
Psalm 1, Psalm 19, Psalm 27
1 Chronicles 16
Prayers from Paul’s Epistles
Verses on “our inheritance”
Christ’s offices of Prophet, Priest and King
and spends her free time gardening, hiking, and camping. You can find more of her writing at www.abidedeep.com.