This past Sunday we talked about the importance of prayer and meditation in our journey along the Steps To Wholeness. Those of you familiar with 12 Step groups may recognize this as Step 11.
And during Q&A one of you asked for some tips and suggestions to get started in meditation.
Thank you so much for asking that! Important question. Glad you poked for that!!
So…. here goes –
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD Psalm 104:34
Someone wrote that “Christian meditation can be described as a peaceful focus on God.”
It doesn’t have to be hard work.
Neither does it have to follow a set formula.
So don’t get all worried about not getting it right. Instead, relax, and enjoy the journey and blessings that come with growing closer to your Lord & Saviour through prayer & meditation.
Let me suggest some things about
– A setting that you find peaceful might be totally distracting to me. Where would be a peaceful place that you could use for regular prayer & meditation? A path in the woods? By your fireplace? At the kitchen table? Coffee shop? Go there.
Don’t rush. It’s hard to be intimate with your spouse while saying, “I’ve only got 5 minutes.” Same here.
– Have a note pad & pen handy.
– Keep your bible open.
Pad & Pen? You bet! Our spiritual enemy will not be delighted to see us spend time focused on our Lord and Saviour and will try to distract us in all sorts of ways (eg the item that MUST be added to the grocery list RIGHT NOW, the email we should write IMMEDIATELY, the chore that CAN’T wait, etc). When such an “urgent” item shouts in your mind write it down, so you can deal with it later. And, by the way, you might well discover that after your quiet time is over, they suddenly don’t seem so compelling any longer.
Bible? I like to read a Psalm as the beginning of my quiet time; and include a piece from the life of Jesus (the Gospels). It keeps my thoughts grounded in God’s truth – so critical!
Oh yes, and you might find yourself helped by a book of prayers by a writer that you connect with.
The pattern to follow in meditation will also be very personal. Perhaps you begin with closing your eyes, paying attention to your breathing to calm down after getting the kids to school, and repeat a simple prayer, or maybe even the name of Jesus – welcoming him. I suspect most of us will need some way to enter our Quiet Time, putting the rush of daily routine to the side.
There are many patterns to follow – let me suggest one that has been personally helpful. It involves four steps, based on a daily scripture reading – whatever passage you choose to use – read; meditate; pray; contemplate.
READ – read the passage. Don’t rush. Don’t skip pieces because you already know the story. Take your time to let it speak to you – every word of it.
MEDITATE – think about what you just read. What jumps out at you today? Is there something you didn’t notice before? Wonder – what message are you getting from God’s Word right here, right now?
PRAY – speak to God about what you’ve learned or heard or noticed.
CONTEMPLATE – stop talking, and just BE with the passage and its truth. Be aware that the Spirit of Jesus is right there with you. This, now, is a bit of time not about content, not about new – just about BEING with your Lord and Saviour.
And then, after that time of four-part reading, a time of prayer.
Based on ACTS – Adoration (praise God), Confession (oops, God I am sorry), Thanksgiving (yes, God, you HAVE heard and answered!), Supplication (i.e. making requests).
True Christian meditation is NOT, as some other spiritual traditions might suggest, the emptying of my mind or the goal of losing my identity in order to be united with some cosmic force.
Instead it is me, heart & soul & mind & strength – all of me, inside and out, being open to the Living Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Welcoming the Trinity into my mind, my will, my emotions, my experiences – everything.
To only focus on emptying leaves one, well, empty. In Luke 11:26 Jesus warns against being spiritually empty inside. You simply don’t know what sort of “spiritual squatter” will take up residence inside!!
Does that help?
As always, if you want to dig further, feel free to drop me a note.
– Pastor Ken