|Posted on February 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM|
Image by Katherine Hanlon from Freely Images.
This encore post originally appeared on Totally Fit 4 Life's website in 2014. Since it is my own work, I can use it as I wish. I've updated and expanded it for greater benefit. I will be reposting the Spiritual Disciplines series in light of the New Age pressures in our society. God has something much better for us to connect with Him. Enjoy!
With all of the wellness practices out in the general public, meditation in all its forms is the most popular. Whether transcendental meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, among many more, people are urged to practice them for better health, greater mental clarity, and stress reduction. When an instructor or leader for meditation is pressed about its religious roots, most will claim it isn't religious at all. However, these meditative practices are rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. Christians are called to be different, set apart for God. In Joshua 1:7-9 we are told,
"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This passage calls us to meditate on the very Word of God.
Pslam 48:9-10 tells us to meditate on God's love. In it, it says,
"Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness."
When we are troubled, we are to prayerfully meditate upon situations that concern us. The psalmist, concerned about troubled times, says this in Psalm 77:5-7,
"the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?"
Our meditation is contemplating, or reflecting, on God's Word, His character, and His activity both in the past and currently in our own lives. This is the heart of Christian meditation.
I have been amazed and concerned about the misconceptions Christians have with meditation. Some believe that reading a daily devotional such as Our Daily Bread is meditation. Devotionals are wonderful, but not as deep as what I present here. Others believe it is okay to sit still cross-legged with palms up on one's knees and chanting is Christian meditation. This is a blend of New Age with Christian practice. There are Christians who put down Lectio Divina as a demonic practice without researching what it truly is. Numerous Christians try buying Christian Meditation kits and studies when they truly don't need them! The marketing practices for these kits and studies rake in tons of money.
There are variations of Lectio Divina, if you look them up. This method I am offering you is tried and true, while free of cost. I would like to share with you the age-old practice of Christian meditation from an ancient monastic tradition as I learned in the Spiritual Formation class at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio.
What you need: a quiet room, soft Christian music playing in the background like praise and worship or Scripture set to music, if you want, a comfortable chair, highlighter, pen, notebook and a translation of the Bible you normally read (no paraphrase, please). No electronic devices in the room. Yes, use a Bible, not your Bible app because the notifications are distracting.You need quiet, uninterrupted time with God.
1. Begin with a common passage of Scripture by slowly reading through it, prayerfully asking God to speak to you through the passage. Some passages may be very difficult to read in this manner. Save those for regular Bible study. Thank Him for His goodness, grace and insight. Be ready to listen to God because you have set yourself before Him ready to learn from Him.
2. As you read, highlight anything that stands out to you repeatedly. Jot down any impressions you have about the passage. Continually pray as you read because it is only you and God in the room. Allow God to teach you through His Word.
3. Note any messages God gives you as you ponder the passage. You may find yourself re-reading the passage a few times. How does this passage speak to your own life? Are there changes He wants you to make? Things He wants you to do? An answer to prayer? Remember that God never contradicts His Word, the Bible.
4. When you feel that it is time to end, take time to thank God for teaching you today. Give Him praise and glory! Ask Him for His help and guidance to put into practice what He has revealed to you.
5. If you have something He wants you to do, write it down and begin an action plan to put into practice what He is telling you. If there were no impressions, plan to meditate on this passage again unless the Lord says no. "Camping out" in a passage may happen quite often.
Don't be discouraged if you have thoughts of your To-Do list or other things creep in that have nothing to do with God's Word. Simply let them pass and hang onto the ones that relate to the passage. If they persist, then prayerfully ask God about these issues. Leave out ritualistic practices like palms up & palms down. Those have nothing to do with God. If a passage causes curiosity and you want to look something up in a Lectionary or Bible Encyclopedia, simply note it to look up later. Simply make this time as intimate time with God, instead of indepth Bible study. Make a regular appointment to spend with Him.
Your relationship with God is the most important relationship you have. Nurturing it will change your life. May God bless you!
For discussion: In your quiet time with God and His Word, what impressions has He given you? Feel free to share below in the comments or emali me at [email protected].
Bible passages come from the New International Version. Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Celebration of Discipline, Revised Edition by Richard J. Foster. Pp. 15-32. Copyright 1988 by Richard J. Foster. Harper Publishing Company, San Francisco.