Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)
What is Meditation?
The concept has been corrupted in modern thought. In the minds of many Christians, meditation is associated with eastern religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism – belief systems that don’t acknowledge God as Father or Jesus as Savior and Lord. This association leads many to believe that meditation in any form opens the mind to evil spirits or untrue teaching.
But that robs us of an important way of interacting with Scripture.
When I began staying home with my kids, I was overwhelmed. While I suspected such an endeavor would be hard, I wasn’t prepared for the ways it challenged me. My daily time in the Bible kept me rooted in Christ; my weekly Bible study kept me digging into Scripture; but the thing that reassured me that I was in Jesus’ hands was meditation on his holy Word.
What the Bible Says About Meditation
Since the concept of meditation has been appropriated by other religions, we’ve lost an important and meaningful way of interacting with Scripture. The Bible mentions 23 occurrences of some translation of meditate: 19 of them appear in the Psalms, and of the 23, 20 refer specifically to meditating on the Lord in some way. We are told to meditate on his actions, law, or testimonies – all of which are found within his Word.
There are several words in the Bible that translate as a form of meditate, depending on their context, including speak, utter, study, imagine, and muse. (There is even one instance of it being translated as sing, my personal favorite.) The Bible uses meditation as deep contemplation, a turning over and around in the mind to gain greater understanding and be changed by God’s truth.
True, meditation is a tool of learning that can be abused. Yet, instead of avoiding it, we should use it with care, biblical understanding, and respect.
What Biblical Meditation Isn’t
Biblical meditation is not:
- Sitting with an empty mind
- Mindlessly repeating a single word or phrase to gain some sort of altered state
- Burning candles, or sitting calmly on a rug, or listening to sonorous music
- Practicing yoga
Biblical meditation isn’t even primarily for relaxation, although you may find it calming and comforting. It’s not about controlling your breathing, although there may be times when deep breaths are helpful. It’s never mindless; instead meditation means that your mind is focused on God and his Word.
What Biblical Meditation Is
Not only is biblical meditation about focusing on God through contemplation on his Word, it’s about quieting our hearts with Scripture and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.
The particulars of biblical meditation can vary, but the practice isn’t complicated. A meditative practice that helps me is sitting quietly and thinking over a passage piece by piece, breaking it apart and dwelling on each word and line of Scripture. I would not be surprised if many of us, even those who scoff at the concept of meditation, have engaged in it without realizing it:
- If you’ve ever sat with a Scripture and gone over it repeatedly, trying to understand each word, you’ve meditated.
- If you’ve ever been compelled by a sermon or passage of Scripture to sit and think over a single attribute or testimony of God, you’ve meditated.
- If you’ve ever felt tempted and brought a Scripture to mind, going over it repeatedly to gain God’s strength and rest, you’ve meditated.
Meditation implies wonder and thought, remembering the Lord in all his glory and pondering him in his fullness:
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? (Psalm 77:11-13)
The Difference Between Meditation and Reading
When we do our daily Bible reading, we’re acknowledging and strengthening our communion with God. In that regard, our daily reading and Scripture meditation are the same. Bible meditation also shares a similarity with Bible study; like Bible study, it’s meant to take a lingering look into specific aspects and contexts of Scripture.
Where daily reading is our regular nourishment in God’s Word, and Bible study is meant to deepen our understanding of that nourishment, Bible meditation is learning to savor every morsel of God’s rich, vibrant, life-giving Scripture:
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:14-16)
Think of Bible meditation like slowly enjoying a piece of chocolate, letting it melt in your mouth, paying close attention to every nuance of flavor and texture. Like a thoughtful experience with well-made food, meditation brings delight in God’s holy testimonies and character, and that delight inspires even more meditation on his Word.
While Bible study educates and convinces the mind, Bible meditation persuades and entices the heart. In the hardest times, I mull over what God has said, reminding myself of his justice and goodness; this settles my soul and turns my eyes from my immediate troubles to his eternal grace.
YogaFaith and Meditation from a Christian Worldview:
- Calms breath and mind to commune with Christ
- Deepens one’s union with God
- Allows one to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit
- Increases compassion and empathy for oneself and others, in turn, Increases the desire to serve others
- Draws one closer to Christ, His heart and will for one’s life
- Keeps one in a life of humility
- Helps one live in harmony with self and others
- Allows one to more contemplative
- Decreased emotional reacting
In addition to the many benefits of meditation in general:
- Relaxes the mind and body
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD
- Lessening of chronic pain
- Overall feeling of being more at ease
- Increases ability to act effectively under pressure
- Helps with letting go and just being in the moment
- Decreases negativity and judgement
- Improves Spiritual development
- Increases self-confidence
- Increases metabolism
- Improves ability to concentrate
- Creates inner wisdom and intuition
- Improves relationships by being more attuned and connected with yourself and others
- Manages psychological disorders
- Helps you learn to observe and accept ‘what is’ and to surrender the present moment in your mind, body, and spirit. The outcome leads to more freedom, satisfaction, and contentment in daily living
- Improves sleep and daytime feeling of being more rested
Other articles on Meditation:
Note: The word meditation is found in Genesis 24:63, the first known appearance in the Old Testament, approximate date 1991 B.C.
Vedic literature (The Vedas) include the word meditation, approximate date 1500 B.C.