For all my Church life I have heard it preached that Meditation is bad and non-Christian. Like most people I have just accepted that which was preached, but kept wondering, why?
One answer came to me during a deliverance session to renounce Freemasonry when the specific exercise involved the renouncing of oaths taken and the curses involved in the thirty-second degree of Freemasonry. An attendee spoke out saying: “The names of the demons are the same as the ‘centring words’ my meditation instructor gave me during my MBA studies!!” He went on to explain that part of his MBA course consisted of studying and practicing ‘non-religious’ meditation. As a life-long Christian, he was shocked to find his ‘non-religious’ chant was actually the name of a Hindu deity. But this is the way the enemy works. As John 8:44 says about the enemy “You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.” As it was in the Garden of Eden when Eve was deceived by the serpent, so it continues today, with deception overcoming both Christians and non-Christians alike, in order to keep them from God and the fulfilment of God’s promised destiny for them.
Yes, meditation is fraught with problems for Christians, but does that mean it is ‘un-Christian’?
First, what does Meditation really mean? Webster’s tells us: “MEDITA’TION, n. [L.meditatio.] Close or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation.” That does not sound too bad, does it? Indeed, Andrew Murray in his book “Daily Experience with God” says “It is in meditation that the heart takes hold of the Word.” Without doubt, this is a decidedly positive endorsement of meditation for Christians.
What does the Bible have to say about meditation? Let’s look as a couple of verses:
Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is only in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night.”
Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Quite clearly, the idea of meditation being no-Christian or non-biblical is inaccurate. Indeed, meditation is found throughout the Bible:
Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Psalm 4:4; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 39:3; Psalm 49:3; Psalm 63:5-6; Psalm 73:12-22; Psalm 77:10-12; Psalm 104:34; Psalm 119:11; Psalm 119:15-16; Psalm 119:23; Psalm 119:48; Psalm 119:55; Psalm 119:59; Psalm 119:78; Psalm 119:97-99; Psalm 119:148; Psalm 139:17-18; Psalm 143:5; First Timothy 4:13-15.
As Andrew Murray continues “Just as in reflection our understanding grasps all meaning of a truth, so in meditation the heart assimilates it and makes truth a part of its own life. We must remember that the heart is the will and the emotions. The meditation of the heart implies desire, acceptance, surrender and love.”
Thus, meditation on the Word of God is necessary for its assimilation into our deepest being. We are not talking about head knowledge here. We are talking about the heart and changing the heart, changing a person. For when the heart is changed, and the hearer or the reader truly comes into belief of the Word, it will master and rule in their lives. Minds is easily changed; when more interesting fodder come its way it will devour it, and a better logic will change it. But it is the heart which matters. These days we use the “heart” to represent our deepest part of our fleshy being. The Hebrews of the Old Testament rather used the “bowels” as being the deepest part, though I believe the meaning/intent is the same. In figurative language, the bowels denote deep emotions of various kinds. For as in physiology we speak of the “nervus sympathicus,” the ancients expressed by these terms “affection,” “sympathy” and “mercy,” feelings of distress and sorrow, as in Job 30:26-28 which reads “When I looked for good, then evil came; and when I waited for light, then darkness came. My bowels boiled, and did not rest; the days of trouble confront me. I go in mourning with no sun; I stood up and I cried out in the congregation.” The gut wrenching situation of Job was felt deeper than just heartache.
Meditation does not come easily for anyone, and like all good habits it needs to be cultivated and practiced so that one can concentrate on the results of the meditation, not on the technique of meditation. To meditate, we need to submit our whole will and heart to God as we concentrate on His Word and then let, without conscious effort on our part, let the Holy Spirit do His work within us, such that the Word will be transformed for us. This truly is a work of the Holy Spirit. When we let the Word sink into our sub-conscious where the Holy Spirit operates, we are in essence opening the door for His entry and work within us. And the work of the Holy Spirit is a work which will change us and transform us, from the inside, out.
But first we need to read His Word, for with no input, there can be no output. The Holy Spirit will quite simply not turn “nothing,” into “something,” for us. We need to read and bring the Word to the presence of God in quietness, submission and humility.
Psalm 119 uses the word “meditation” seven times. What is especially important for Christians to recognise is that each time in Psalm 119 meditation is mentioned, it is as part of a Prayer! For the Israelites, meditation was not an exercise of and in itself; rather, it was a part of a means to communicate with God:
Psalm 119:15 “I will meditate on Your Commandments and have respect to Your ways.”
Psalm 119:23 “Princes also sat and spoke against me; but Your servant meditated on Your Precepts.”
Psalm 119:48 “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.”
Psalm 119:78 “Let the proud be ashamed; for they perverted my cause with lying; I will meditate on Your Commandments.”
Psalm 119:97 “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.”
Psalm 119:99 “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.”
Psalm 119:148 “My eyes go before the night watches, so that I might meditate on Your Word.”
The Israelites used meditation as and when they turned to God in prayer, and perhaps we ought to do the same. Psalm 51:6 tell us that “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom.” Surely this is for us to know and understand! For the Psalmist here is acknowledging that which God wants from us: the truth from us. He is also acknowledging from where comes our wisdom and understanding of the Word: from God, for He makes it known.
Even Mary, the Mother of Jesus knew the advantages of meditation, as Luke 2:19 records “But Mary kept all these sayings, meditating in her heart.” Perhaps we ought to learn from Mary also.
If we sit and study the Word, it is for our intellect and head knowledge. When we sit and meditate on the Word, it is for our personal application in daily life and it will transform our heart and eventually our character, as we let the revelations of the Holy Spirit infuse us, from inside. It is in this quiet mediation that God speaks to our deepest parts, when we are in absolute surrender to Him. Then and only then, when He is in control, will He reveal Himself through His Word, in new and wonderful ways. But meditation, as above, was not and should not for Christians either, be the end target, the final purpose of the meditation exercise. Meditation must be a prelude to prayer, as it was in Psalm 119, for that Psalmist. Meditation will provide the raw and Godly substance of prayer, that which we cannot plumb or fathom in the flesh or by intellect. Meditation allows us to pray the revealed will of God, such that God’s will may be prayed into existence, and become reality on earth and in heaven.
The more work we do for God, the more time we spend with Him, the more meditation is required by us. As Psalm 1:1-2 says “Blessed is the man…(whose) delight is …. in the Law of Jehovah…… and….. he meditates day and night.”
The benefits of continual and extensive and extended meditation for Christians are fully explained in Joshua 1:5b, 7-9 “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you……. Be strong and very courageous so that you may be careful to do according to all the Law ……. so that you may act wisely wherever you go. This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night…….. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.” God here confirms His commitment to us as we commit to Him. When we comply with His laws and His Word, He will be with us. When He is with us, and we do as He requires of us, we will then be able to act wisely.
Amen and Amen.
Please kindly note, this article has all to do with Meditation and nothing at all to do with yoga. For those interested in the topic of yoga for Christians, please see the following two articles:
By Albert Mohler:
At AlbertMohler.Com entitled: “The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga?“