If you’re looking for more purpose and guidance in your life, Christian meditation is a great place to start! By practicing daily biblical meditation you can achieve mindfulness and stop negative thinking.
Bringing Christian Meditation Into Your Life
In today’s culture, the new age idea of mindfulness has permeated the collective consciousness in a way that has disturbed some Christians. Due to the popularization of Buddhist or pagan ideals, many of those of us who worship the Lord find ourselves cringing away from words such as ‘meditation’ and ‘mindfulness,’ because to us, these words conjure images of non-Christian rituals or ideologies. This does not need to be the case: mindfulness, when you look at its components, is actually a very Christian practice. Christian mindfulness is the practice of bringing Christian meditation into your daily life.
Those of us who practice Biblical meditation often do so in twenty-minute increments. We set aside a single part of our day specifically to sit in God’s presence, reflect on a given piece of scripture, and remind ourselves that the love of the Lord is the most important thing in our lives. Mindfulness is what occurs when you take the essence of meditation and practice it as a part of your life. When you practice Christian mindfulness, you are living Biblical meditation. Instead of isolating the benefits of meditation to a twenty-minute session on a daily basis, you can expand your practice so that you are living mindfully every minute of every day. Naturally, this will greatly increase the efficacy of your practice. The more time you spend actively basking in the Lord’s presence, the happier, more grounded, and more faithful you will feel.
Practice Mindfulness To Strengthen Your Relationship with God
In its simplest form, mindfulness is awareness. Awareness is pivotal to reducing stress, improving your life on all fronts, and fostering a deeper, more meaningful connection with God and everything that He has created. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of this practice is one that even non-Christians have touted for years: stress reduction. Stress, regardless of faith, is a devastating force when it comes to our thoughts, feelings, abilities, and every aspect of our lives. From a Christian perspective, stress often serves as an obstructive force which steps between us and God. When we are chronically stressed, our physical health suffers, our emotional capacities for love and worship dwindle, and we find that we are no longer in peak condition to work on our relationship with God.
By bringing mindfulness into our everyday lives, we can experience the simplification of thoughts that we relish during meditation. When the contents of our heads are simplified, we can think more clearly, and we find that we have far more room to nurture our relationship with God. Mindfulness brings us fully into the present. Only when we are living fully in the present, once the distractions and superfluous noise in our heads have been cleared away, can we TRULY exist in the light of the Lord. When you are mindful, you experience everything more deeply. Prayer becomes all-consuming, and when you are in church, you are REALLY in church. By practicing mindfulness, you will be taking in the word of God, instead of running over your grocery list as you sit in church.
The Bible and Mindfulness
The Bible encourages us to be mindful! Perhaps one of the most succinct pieces of scripture in stating this point is Hebrews 3:1, which states that all of us who follow God must, “set your minds on Jesus.” Even Colossians 3:2 reminds us to, “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” For us, this means clearing out the buzzing in our heads. The distracting thoughts that plague most of our attention are the ‘earthly things.’ By being mindful and aware, we can more easily fill our heads with thoughts of things above.
To start incorporating mindfulness into your life, it’s important to begin with small steps. 21st century life is often full of waiting: waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting for an appointment. Instead of mulling over your to-do list or checking your phone, stop, take a breath, and examine your surroundings. Look for evidence of God in everything around you. If your current circumstances remind you of a piece of scripture, meditate on that while you wait. Examine your thoughts, look for things that are problematic, and gently redirect your consciousness in a more positive direction. Keep God in your mind’s eye. Do not lose yourself in distraction.
Making Christian Meditation a Part of Your Daily Life
Recently, I receive a letter from a subscriber who asked what was the best way to incorporate Christian meditation into their daily life. In this article, I want to outline ways you can include Christian meditation into your daily schedule that has made my life so much more rewarding and fulfilling. There are numerous benefits to meditating on God and spending time in His presence. These include developing a more intimate relationship with Christ, eliminating worry and stress, creating a space for God to speak to our hearts, and becoming more sensitive to the Holy Spirit to name a few. However, this article places more emphasize on the logistics than the benefits and gives some ideas of making Christian meditation a daily reality in your life as well.
In this article, I will also share with you some tools I use that are indispensable to me and have made my time with God so much richer. These are not requirements because in actuality to meditate or spend time with God, all you really need is a willing heart and a quiet space.
My Morning Devotion Schedule
Not only will I discuss the practice of daily Christian meditation I also want to share with you other activities I include in what I call my Morning Devotion that has had a great impact on my life as well. I know that each of us have different situations. I don’t have small children at home anymore, but I do have a grandson that spends three nights a week with me, so often I have to adjust my Morning Devotion around his needs, but if there is a will there is a way.
I have tried many, many different schedules for my Morning Devotion over the years, but the one I am about to share with you has been the best one for me. By Morning Devotion I mean the time I take each morning before I leave for the job or work on my business. The days that I skip these activities are usually marked with anxiety and frustration. I have reasoned that if I’m too busy for God and myself, then I’m just too busy and that busyness and chaos usually ends up being a thread throughout my entire day. If I give into the busyness I may have lost an opportunity to receive God’s divine inspiration.
God created us spirit, soul, and body and He doesn’t want us to neglect any of these areas. We neglect our bodies when we eat poorly and don’t exercise. We neglect our mind or soul when we feed it with mental junk food instead of uplifting literature or spiritual delights, and we neglect our spirit when we don’t spend time with God being restored, renewed, and renovated. So instead of thinking just, Christian meditation, think mental, spiritual, and physical renewal which I call Morning Devotion, a morning of devotion to myself, to all three parts of me.
Therefore, the first thing I like to do when I awake up is some form of exercise. I have tried exercising after meditation, after breakfast, in the evening, and various other times throughout the day, but have found that if I don’t do it the very first thing, it’s just not going to happen for me that day. Once I get preoccupied with other activities I just can’t pull myself away, and then once the evening hits, who wants to exercise, it’s time to relax. So if exercise has been a struggle for you as well, try doing it right out of bed. I usually exercise to DVDs; my favorites are the Envy Girls Series, 6 Minute Quick Blast by Tracy Mallett, PraiseMoves, and Wholly Fit. Some days I’ll also do a walk, run around the neighborhood. I always try to end my 30 minute workout with a relaxing stretch and cool down. Afterwards I feel wonderful.
If you are pressed for time, this would be a great time to incorporate a guided Christian meditation. Before starting your cool down, (Tracy includes a six minute cool down on her DVD), dim the lights, light a candle, get a comfy blanket, and put your meditation CD in the player. After finishing the stretching exercises, lie on your mat, cover your feet with a blanket, and play the meditation. It will be a refreshing end to a great workout.
Since I usually have a little bit more time, after working out I have breakfast. However, while preparing what I’m going to eat I’ll listen to Christian affirmations, an inspirational CD, or the Bible on tape. Not only am I feeding my body nutritious food, I’m also feeding my soul. Other great times to listen to affirmations or other inspirational recordings is driving to work, taking a shower, or putting on make-up (if you’re a female). Hey, why not use technology as much as you can.
I used to try and do my quiet time before I showered and got dressed, but I noticed that doing it the last part of my Morning Devotion meant I could take all that inspiration into my work time. Also, at the end of my time with God, I would list my plans for the day asking God for wisdom and guidance. I was able to keep those good feelings and God’s presence lingering in my heart just a little bit longer. For those of you who are leaving for a job that is less than optimal or you need some additional inspiration, this could be a good thing as well.
My Time Spent with God
Now, let’s discuss my actual time with God. Christian meditation can take many different forms. I am not a proponent of one size fits all programs. I believe that the Holy Spirit speaks, guides, and corrects us each according to our own unique purpose and personality. Therefore, these suggestions are only to broaden the possibilities, but it’s up to you and the Holy Spirit to create a quiet time that is purposeful and fulfilling for you.
These are “must haves” for my time with God and I am almost certain they would be a blessing to you as well. First, you need a CD player and soft angelic music playing in the background. I give my subscribers a free meditation collection download that would work well. There is something about music that opens our soul to the spirit and calms our restlessness. While the music is playing softly in the background and I’m sitting in my comfy chair in my prayer room, I light three candles and give honor to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, inviting them into my quiet time. If you are beginning your quiet time with a heavy heart or emotional baggage please do the exercise in my article Overcome Negative Emotions by Casting Every Care on God first.
If you don’t purchase anything else for your quiet time with God, please get this wonderful daily devotional, “Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God” by J. David Muyskens. It is hard to put into words the significance of this book to every believer desiring a more intimate walk with God. The author, who is a Christian Spiritual Director and proponent of Centering Prayer, (another form of Christian meditation) uses meditation and the scriptures to grow a deeper awareness of God. Each of the 40 day passages and exercises along with the meditation practice will open your heart to a relationship with God beyond the superficial and routine. After the 40 days have ended, start again from the beginning. I believe this is a devotional for life. The book teaches the art of centering prayer where you focus on a word like Father, Abba, Jesus, peace, love, etc that symbolizes your deep intention and desire to dwell in God’s presence and love.
40 Days to a Closer Walk with God is not about formulas, but a rich teaching to help every believer realize God for him or her self. Please get it!
Next, I pull out my book, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim. This lovely book contains a variety of prayers just for meditation, for every season, and for every day of the week. The prayers begin with an eloquent praise to God as we prepare our heart to rest silently in Him. It is then followed up with an ending prayer. In addition to this book of prayers, I read one chapter each day from Psalms for Praying, An Invitation to Wholeness. The author’s prose invokes a love relationship with God that literally transforms your spirit.
If you are using the book 40 Days to a Closer Walk with God, follow the Prayer Practice at the end of each section. In lieu of using this book, spend time with God in silence or with soft music playing in the background for about 20 minutes or play one of my many guided Christian meditation CDs. These CDs come in a variety of topics and are very effective in ushering believers into the presence of God. They are particularly helpful if you are new to meditation or have an extremely restless mind, as each meditation contains a progressive relaxation followed by a scriptural narrative.
End your time with God reading a passage of scripture looking for any word or passage that jumps off the page at you. 40 Days to a Closer Walk with God suggests several passages to read each day. I usually read the entire chapter and follow that with writing a few sentences or passages in my notebook or journal of what God is saying to me through His word.
Lastly, I read my list of daily intentions. It includes about 25 positive statements that I intend on accomplishing each day. For example, “I intend on having a great day. I intend on being a healing light to the world. I intend on living by faith. I intend on turning every care over to God,” etc. These intentions are so powerful because I am speaking aloud what I intend to have and my words cannot return void according to the scriptures. By the end of my time with God, my heart is filled with an overwhelming peace and joy and I am ready to fulfill my purpose for the day.
My morning devotion takes me about 2 ½ hours every morning. That includes the exercise, breakfast, getting dress, and time with God. I generally start about 5 or 5:30 a.m. so I try to go to bed by 9 a.m. and usually wake up on my own. I feel like these are the best 2 ½ hours spent for creating a day filled with love, joy, and peace.
You may be thinking, I don’t have time to devote 2 ½ hours a day to myself and I ask you, aren’t you worth it? Aren’t you worth being happy, healthy, and whole? The answer is yes. If my schedule doesn’t work for you, create one that does and make it just as important as the time you spend working and doing those things you “have” to do everyday, but are far less rewarding. I hope this article has given you ideas on how you can incorporate a Morning Devotion, a devotion to your health and well-being, in your own life.