How To Practice Christian Meditation
The Bible tells Christians to do it.
Meditation, including Christian meditation has a bad name, at least with some. It is suspect, likely because of Eastern Meditation, even though it is taught in the Bible. If you’re a Christian, you should meditate.
Joshua 1:8 says that if you want to prosper and succeed, you must meditate on God’s Word. It says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8 NLT)
Psalm 1 says that you’ll find real joy when you meditate on the Bible “day and night.”
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2 NLT)
But it seems that Christian meditation is misunderstood and avoided. What a shame.
To meditate means: “think deeply or carefully about something.” We should meditate on the Truth of Scripture.
If someone says they can’t meditate, then my question is, “Can you worry?” If so, then you can meditate, because meditation is worry turned in the right direction.
So here are 2 guidelines and then a process for Christian meditation:
Guideline #1: Focus your meditation on the Truth of Scripture.
We meditate (think) about all kinds of things: worries, memories, hopes, relationships, fears, resentments, sayings, movies, videos, conversations, etc.
These are not all bad and some might be good. But the best thing to meditate on is the Word of God.
Did you know that if you are a Christian, Jesus prayed for you? The prayer is recorded in John 17 where He prayed for all those who would become his followers. One of the things Jesus prayed for us is this, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” (John 17:17 NLT)
Jesus prayed that we’d be holy. To be holy is to be great! God is great in part because of His holiness.
The more we become holy, the greater we’ll be.
Where does holiness and greatness come from? Jesus said it is by the Words of Scripture.
You can read a lot of meditations, sayings and “spiritual wisdom” from people, but they can never match up to the truth of God’s Words. In fact, some of it will lead you far astray from the Truth.
Never substitute anything for the Word of God.
Guideline #2: Refocus away from wrong thoughts.
I’ve often found myself meditating on unhelpful issues: resentment, remorse, anxiety, sins, revenge, complaints, offenses, lust. The list goes on and on. This despite the fact that I know these thoughts aren’t accomplishing much, except wearing me down.
Sometimes I legitimize my less-than-helpful thoughts by thinking that they’re helping me to solve a problem, or think through an issue. But often I must admit that I am worrying, or resenting, or working myself up by thinking the wrong thoughts.
When that happens, I have to pull my thoughts back to what Scripture tells me to focus on: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
I’ve memorized that verse, and recommend you do the same. Then quote it when you’re tempted to allow your meditations to wander down the wrong paths.
A Process for Christian Meditation
a. Confess your sins
The first thing to do is to clear out all that will hinder your communion with God through confession.
There is no doubt that sins will hinder our Christian meditation. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18 NIV)
But Scripture promises in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
b. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.
If you are a Christian, you have God’s Spirit living in you.
His job, in part, is to guide you into truth. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” (John 16:13 NLT)
c. Find and focus on pertinent Scriptures
What are you meditating (thinking) about: is it a relationship, a topic, a problem, a goal?
Whatever your focus, find Scriptures to meditate on that relate to the issues you’re facing.
How? With the internet, it is so simple. Just search the key word using a phrase such as “Bible verses on ___________ (stress, anger, guidance, worry).”
You’ll come up with potential passages from which you can choose which ones work best for you.
Then meditate on that passage as it relates to your issue. Go over and over the passage. Review it to the point that you find you have it memorized. You’ll find that you can memorize a couple of verses without even trying to memorize them.
d. Replace negative thoughts with Scripture
When meditating, it is so easy to slip into negative thought patterns. The world, the flesh and the devil all want to take our heads where they shouldn’t be.
So, when tempted to fall into a negative thought pattern, corral your thoughts by going back to God’s Word.
When Jesus was tempted with wrong thinking in the wilderness, He answered each time with Scripture that He had memorized.
So, memorize Scriptures that will help you to overcome wrong thinking and temptation.
e. Refocus on God’s Word repeatedly until your mindset changes.
Once you’ve done the steps above, don’t let go until you have victory. Like a great meal where you want a second helping and the next day you want to have the leftovers for lunch, come back repeatedly for more!
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