By Rhonda Jones
Christians have many concerns pertaining to meditation, but by far the biggest one is their fear that meditation is in and of itself an un-Christian activity. Mainstream stereotypes surrounding meditation suggest that it’s a Buddhist, pagan, Earth-worshiping activity. This could not be further from the truth– in fact, Christian meditation is heavily grounded in the Bible.
Psalm 19:14 is one of my favorite examples of how to use meditation to honor God, it reads, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and Redeemer.”
The truth, even according to the above scripture, is that all people meditate. The question we need to ponder is whether what we meditate on is pleasing to God. Are the majority of our thoughts faith-filled, uplifting, and edifying as stated in Philippians 4:8 that declares, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
The practice of meditation is a tool we can use as a mental intervention system to help us make conscious choices when it comes to what we think about (or meditate on) instead of the other way around. People who are reactive and impetuous are generally ruled by their thoughts and emotions without much contemplation or reflection in between. In fact, they might not even know where their thoughts begin and they actions end, yet, though often sometimes hard to detect, there are very real distinctions between the two. Through meditation we become a mindful observer of our thoughts, sometimes referred to as mindfulness. This mindfulness also includes a detached awareness. We see the thoughts but then we choose how we will react, or better yet, respond to them – with love, judgement, non-judgement, curiosity, intolerance, impatience, peace, anger, pain, or acceptance. In other words, we can take back the control.
If we are to bring “every thought captive to Christ” we must first recognize the thoughts that we have. We all have mental blind spots or ways of thinking that are contrary to God’s word and character. Often, we don’t even recognize these reoccurring mind patterns until God or someone else brings them to our attention.
Not long ago, Yeshua shined a great light on one aspect of my own thought life. One evening, I was attending a Christian concert at a local church. About an hour into the concert I noticed something. Almost every thought I was thinking from the time I arrived was critical or judgmental, “Why is he videoing with his phone instead of worshiping?” “Why do they have all these posters of the pastors on the wall?” “What do you mean you’re famous?” “Well maybe the people would worship like Hillsong Live if you sang like Hillsong Live!” That thought was in response to something the lead singer said. OMG, it was just one after the other then BAM, God opened my eyes to the meditations of my heart and they weren’t pretty at all! I remember saying to myself, “Rhonda, you have a judgmental and critical spirit!” I couldn’t believe it. Even after I noticed it, still random critical thoughts continued to come and now I was telling them to “stop!” Wherever we feed on grows and creates a harvest after it’s kind. The whole thing was very humbling and let me know that we must always be on guard of our hearts and are susceptible to the influence of the evil one, no matter how holy we might think we are!
Generally I am really positive or at least I thought I was, but hence, a blind spot. During that time this incident occurred, I had been listening to a lot of teachings that were bringing a lot of scrutiny against the church, and I had allowed these messages to get into my spirit. After repenting to the Lord and asking Him to cleanse my heart, and casting out some demons, a few weeks later the Holy Spirit really revealed to me the root of my criticalness. He let me know that this attitude was really coming from my own deep hurts and insecurities that I had experienced from the church (in general) and other Christians. This was my own way of protecting my heart but it was poison to my soul. Once God reveal the meditations of my heart as unholy and unclean, I quickly went into action to purify my heart and mind from all unrighteousness using the very same tools I suggest on this website.
Having a regular meditation practice helped me to observe the thoughts that were holding my heart captive and allowed me to come against them without bringing condemnation on myself. After that evening, I asked the Holy Spirit to “check” me every time I began to entertain these unrighteous thoughts. Then from my favorite devotional, The Imitation of Christ, I began to meditate on one verse from the Voice of Christ section, “If you think yourself good, think others better.” That actually comes right out of scripture (Philippians 2:3) and it became my daily mantra. Healing began to take place as I brought my hurts and feelings of rejection to God and started to look to Him alone for my consolation, validation and value. Because of this, these spirits had nothing left to attach too and left. However, I will stay on guard against that blind spot in the future for we know the devil is just waiting for an entrance.
Despite modern stereotypes, there is nothing mystical about Christian meditation. In fact, the word ‘meditation’ is one that we as Christians should reclaim for Our Lord! In modern times, the practice has been dominated by mystics and those practicing Eastern religions, which has unfortunately resulted in a general aversion to it among Christians. It is truly a lost art among those who share our faith. Because it is so rarely practiced by Christians in the mainstream, many of us cannot imagine how meditation could possibly help strengthen our relationship with God.
In reality, meditation is a generic practice that can take on many forms and methods based on a variety of outcomes. Meditation can also be a religious or a non-religious activity. There are hundreds of meditation techniques depending upon what you’d like to achieve; however, whether you meditate to draw closer to God or to relieve stress, the innate virtues of meditation are life changing, promoting peace of mind, inner calm, and an expanded awareness of self, the Spirit, and our relationship to the world. What makes one method different from another is the intention behind it. Christian meditation simply means that the focus of your meditation is one that puts God in the center of your practice.
One of the oldest and most common forms of Christian meditation dates back to at least 400 AD. In this practice, His followers– then Christian monks, but today, anyone– pick a passage from the Bible and read it closely, consciously, deliberately. They ponder the passage themselves, then they open up to God; they ask for His guidance and His understanding so that they may live out the Divine Truth presented in the passage.
Meditating on Scripture can help us to “hide God’s Word in our heart, ” that will only strengthens your foundation as a Christian for “faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.” Or, “I have hid your Word in my heart that I might not sin against thee. And then in Psalms1:1-3:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
This means that we, as Christians, should cast out our fear when approaching meditation! Christians have used meditation to strengthen their faith for thousands of years. Meditation is simply the practice of wholly devoting your mind to God’s Presence, His Character, His Glory, and His Word– the practice of engaging with it as a living, breathing entity that has the power to transform your spirit.
Just as you would stay away from particular t.v. shows or types of music, stay away from types of meditation that glorify self, seek spiritual enlightenment or wisdom apart from the Most High. Honestly, it’s just common sense. Whether you use meditation for spiritual or health-related reasons, you’ll find tremendous benefits that can affect all aspects of your life.
Want to get started with Christian meditation? Check out my Getting Started with Christian Meditation Page.