Meditation for Christians, what it is and how to do it

Christian meditation

The Age in which we live is characterised by adoption. Adoption of ideas, adoption of experience and adoption of ritual. Christian meditation is at the cusp of this phenomenon.

The afternoon sun beat down onto my back through the western window where I sat slumped at the rear of the training room. It was warm and I was lazy. Three days of intense instruction had frayed my mind and now I needed rest. My heavy eyes drooped and my ears no longer tuned into the lecturer’s droning voice.

The subject was Leading and Managing People. The first day had been spent discussing leadership, the second management and the third day focused on us, the individuals, and how we needed to “know ourselves” with a “deeper awareness”. It was very flaky and I found myself drifting off often.

“Close your eyes,” said the lecturer to the class (finally something I wanted to do), “and picture another you far away in the middle of the universe…”

“This isn’t right?” I thought to myself after a while as I straightened in my chair and opened my eyes to observe the other 60 learners being guided through a 25 minute self actualization ritual.

Later, over coffee, I asked a guy who goes to a good church up the road what he thought of the show.

“Wow, good to great!” came an enthusiastic response.

My brow furrowed as I pushed, “You didn’t think it all a bit… New Age?”

“No, not at all. It reminded me of contemplative prayer and meditation. You know, that deep spiritual stuff.”

I’ve been thinking about what meditation is to a Christian this evening. The first time that we come across the word is in Genesis. The text says that Isaac,

…went out to meditate in the field at the eventide…

Want to hear the verse in context? Genesis 24 – 30
What is this about?

In the Psalms David uses a word translated as meditate a dozen or so times. My favourite Psalm describes a righteous man as someone who’s,

…delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Want to hear the verse in context? Psalms 1 – 13
What is this about?

And in the New Testament, Paul, writing a letter which deals largely with doctrine and the accurate handling of Scripture, exhorts Timothy to,

Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

Want to hear the verse in context? 1 Timothy 4
What is this about?

“What is meditation,” you may ask, “How is it Biblically defined?”

Biblically speaking meditation (in the Old Testament) carries with it a sense of talking, muttering or conversation. It’s a form of prayer to be sure. It is not incorrect to also add to that a sense of musing, pondering or contemplation. We might say, “chew on this” or, “think on these things” to convey the idea.

Almost all 18 references to meditation or meditate that are found in the Old Testament have a very tight relationship to Scripture. For example the Children of Israel are told that the, “…book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night…” Psalm 19, which deals largely with Scripture and the beauty of it, ends with this prayer, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” This certainly is an appropriate way to approach God and His Word.

Nowhere in Scripture is there any indication that meditation involves visualising, repetition or the use of mantras or any other Eastern Religious influenced rituals or rights.

“So, how can I, as a Christian, meditate?”

Well grab a Bible. Find a praise Psalm (Psalm 145 would be a great place to start). Read it, mull over it, study it, think on it, understand it, chew on it and pray to God all the while. That’s it, that’s meditation.

For more go and check out

I read a quote on Facebook this evening which struck me, although I do not know who to attribute it to, “Discernment isn’t spotting the difference between right and wrong, it’s spotting the difference between right and almost right”


5 thoughts on “Meditation for Christians, what it is and how to do it

  1. “Discernment isn’t spotting the difference between right and wrong, it’s spotting the difference between right and almost right” – Charles Spurgeon ( I believe )

    “omnia mihi licent sed non omnia expediunt omnia mihi licent sed ego sub nullius redigar potestate”

    I would suggest that some people may come to a place where they have such a strong experience of God that they are able to spend time with him in silence, focusing solely on him, and not mere words. I also would suggest that this only happens for those who are deeply grounded in his word, and not easily led into false understandings, and can never replace true meditation as you have described it.

    Or are you suggesting there is never an appropriate time to just ‘Be Still, and know that He is God?’


    • You know you’re my favorite fish, right?

      Psalm 46:

      1 God is our refuge and strength,
      A very present help in trouble.
      2 Therefore we will not fear,
      though the earth should change
      And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
      3 Though its waters roar {and} foam,
      Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
      4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
      The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
      5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
      God will help her when morning dawns.
      6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
      He raised His voice, the earth melted.
      7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
      The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
      8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
      Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
      9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
      He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
      burns the chariots with fire.
      10 “Cease {striving} and know that I am God;
      I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
      11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
      The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

      The verse isn’t a call to assume the Lotus position, Aummmm and visualize ourselves in a divine state (I’ve taken this to the extreme for effect). It’s a call to turn away from rebellion and to God. Given the context is God speaking this verse to the saved or to the rebellious? Does the song we sing make sense given that context? Man I love that song :).

      What do you think?

  2. Hi Mark – I’m inclined to agree with Shark Bait on this one! Sometimes it is good to stop our constant thinking and wrestling and just be still. Perhaps to allow the Spirit to bear witness to our spirit (Romans 8)?
    That doesn’t necessarily need the extreme stuff you mentioned!

    • Hi Jenny,

      Welcome to my neck of the woods. I enjoy following your goings on.

      This was a bit of a can of worms.

      I’m certainly not advocating a departure away from communion with God in the way it has been passed down from the Apostolic teachings. I’m rather seeking to clarify the word meditation in a Christian context and show that it is distinct from other religious practices.

      Does that make sense?

  3. Hi Mark,

    I do both. I meditate/cogitate on the word because I want to have it deep in my heart so the Holy Spirit can pull it up when I need it for encouragement or battle.

    I also go deep in the spirit/Spirit through worship and reach a point of bliss where I will just listen. I have been asking Jesus questions all week long. He never forgets what I have asked even though I usually do.

    I journal constantly so when I get an answer that sounds familiar I can go back and see when I asked that question. I can usually spend hours in the Word as He backs up His answer. It is then that I do the cogitation on what He has given me. I am not good at memorization but usually when He brings me an answer He also brings me opportunity to live it. In faith I walk it out with Him and then I don’t need to worry about memorization because the word will usually make me cry because of His faithfulness being the response to my faith.

    When someone comes to me with a similar circumstance I can use the word to help them and also my testimony. I can say…yea buddy…been there….got that Jesus T-Shirt.

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