(Condensed,* with permission, from The Sabbath Sentinel, May-June 2011)
It's a lost art among Christians. There is a stigma about meditation because of the popularity of Eastern Hindu-style meditation, but that is only a symptom of the problem that Christians have with meditation. I can't think of any Christian that I know who practices Eastern meditation.
That’s for the New Age crowd, yet Christians continue to shun one of our most important ways of understanding God and His will. The excuses for avoiding meditation are rooted in our modern culture. Maybe Christians need a new perspective on meditation.
The key to proper meditation comes from the pen of King David in the Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalms 46:10). This verse strikes at the core of our modern human problem; we have lost the art of being still.
There was a time not long ago when people would take time to go into the woods, sit under a tree or along the bank of a stream just to be alone and reflect on life. There they would ponder nature and the heavens, and all the work of God’s hands. Many would take walks alone just to regain their “balance” about life and its demands.
Today, people loathe being alone and hate the silence of isolation. The solitude of one’s own thoughts is frightening to most people. There is a fear of confronting head-on one’s thoughts and earthly passions, hence the clamor for an ever more dizzying array of distractions to prevent the self from confronting the self. There is never any peace in our pursuits, only a yearning for the next distraction to keep us from seeing ourselves as we really are ― and as God sees us. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” (John 14:27). This is a gift and a promise from Christ. Nevertheless, I defy anyone to find five Christians out of a hundred who know true peace such as Jesus described.
Meditation is pondering, wondering, musing, contemplating, and at times, just being still. It is leaving God time to catch up with us instead of fleeing from one distraction to the next. The Holy Spirit is a great teacher and problem solver, but it is only when we have cleared our minds of distractions that we can allow the Holy Spirit to do its work.
Have you ever wondered why “sleeping on it” is such a good idea? Our subconscious is working all the time, even when we sleep. It is during sleep when there is an absence of distractions that God often does His best work in reaching our minds and hearts with just the right answer presented in just the right way. We can also create those times of solitude with God when we separate ourselves from television, the computer, or the cell phone and simply are alone with our Creator. Make no mistake; our Heavenly Father relishes those moments of undivided attention that we give Him when we are alone, and I don’t mean when we are praying. Praying involves talking; meditation is that time when we are listening for His counsel, when we hear His voice ringing in our minds. For He is love, and He loves to commune with us in our silent moments.
Meditation should be a regular, daily practice. You say you don't have the time. Maybe that’s why you are having trouble in your relationship with God and why you don't understand His will. How about spending a little less time in front of the TV or at the computer, and more time alone with Abba, your Father? Are you serious about walking in His ways and being the best Christian you can be? Then eliminate some of the distractions in your life, and fill that vacated space by fellowshipping with God ― just being alone with Him.
Bible study and prayer are important and should never be neglected, but don't just learn about God or spend time on your knees detailing a laundry list of petitions for Him to fulfill. Be still, and alone by yourself come to know who He is. Stop talking and distracting yourself with your worldly needs; just listen to Him as He renews your mind and communes with you through the Spirit that He has made to dwell in you.
Meditation by God’s faithful servants throughout the ages is recorded many times in the Bible. Isaac went out into the field in the evening to meditate (Genesis 24:63). The Psalmist meditated on the mighty works of God (Psalms 43:5). In this Psalm the writer uses “mediate,” “muse,” and “remember” almost interchangeably. In Psalms 63:6, the Psalmist meditates on God “in the night watches.” After the death of Moses, God comes to Joshua to instruct him to carry on the redemptive work that Moses started. In those instructions the Lord tells Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). God was not telling Joshua about the Law, as is the common misunderstanding. He was telling Joshua to mediate on the Book of the Law (the five books of Moses, the Torah) which included all of the mighty and wondrous acts of God, not just the writing of the Ten Commandments at Sinai.
In the New Testament the apostle Paul instructs Timothy to mediate: “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15).
Meditation is communion with God, reaching out to Him and hearing back from Him. It is as important as prayer and Bible study. Meditation focuses our attention directly on our Heavenly Father and away from our worries and concerns that often interfere with hearing His counsel and instruction. It is quiet time to listen to His voice while calming our agitated spirit. Don’t shortchange your relationship with God. Add meditation to your routine and reap the rewards of greater satisfaction in your walk with God.
*The full text of this editorial can be found at http://biblesabbath.org/media/TSSMayJune2011.pdf