Meditation. That word alone drudges up many preconceived notions, many of which are more negative than positive. When Christians hear the word meditation, they quickly associate it with Buddha and other Eastern religions that are against the teachings of Jesus. Author Sarah Geringer wrote , “Does Christian meditation sound a little weird to you at first? Once I learned that it is simply using a chosen Scripture as a mental focus point during a quiet moment, the weirdness factor dissipated.”
Did you know the Bible encourages us to meditate? God wants us to meditate on His Word!
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Meditation in the Bible:
Psalm 1:1-3: "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.”
Psalm 77:12: “I will meditate on all your work and muse on your deeds.”
Psalm 104:1: “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD. Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. “
Psalm 119:15-16: “I will meditate on your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in your statutes; I shall not forget your word.”
Joshua 1:8: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
If the Bible encourages us to meditate, how do we incorporate this practice without dabbling in Eastern religion? Here are five main differences between Eastern meditation and biblical meditation:
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1. Emptying vs. Filling Up Your Mind Through Meditation
Eastern meditation requires us to empty ourselves, emptying our minds of everything so we may fill it with mantras and other queues. This can open a person up to Satan planting thoughts into their minds. Christianity, however, does not require us to empty ourselves but rather dwell on Scripture we already know.
2. Summoning vs. Approaching
Eastern meditation hopes to summon a foreign god by chanting or incantations. Christians already have access to God through Christ’s death on the cross. Through His death, Christ paved the way by being the mediator between God and man and atoning for all sin. All we have to do is ask God and He will hear our prayers.
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3. Christian Meditation for Stress Relief vs. True Transformation
Paul was correct when he said in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
By dwelling on the good things in life, it renews our mind. This, when done often enough, transforms our hearts. Eastern meditation works by simply repeating words over and over and will only help relieve stress and anxiety temporarily, leaving a person vulnerable to anxiety striking again. Meditating on the living and active Word of God helps transform us, allowing us the opportunity to nip anxiety in the bud.
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4. Recognizing the True God vs. Becoming a god
New Age religion posits that we can become a god here on earth. By repeating words or phrases we seek to control our environment, making us the god of our own circumstances. Meditating on Scripture gives glory to God, placing the power back where it belongs—in God’s hands.
5. Cultivating Fruits of the Spirit
Scripture also teaches that when we renew our minds, our hearts follow, cultivating fruits of the spirit, such as love, joy, peace, and patience. Scripture is a guidebook on righteous living. The more we know it, the more likely we are to follow it, allowing those fruits to thrive. Since Jesus calls Himself the vine, we cannot cultivate fruit without being connected to the place that allows those seeds of fruit to be watered and fed. When fruit is watered, growth is fostered. Eastern meditation does not allow for this same growth or characteristics to grow in our lives. Eastern meditation is simply a quick fix — a temporary solution.
How can you practice biblical meditation on a regular basis? Here are 6 ways to incorporate biblical meditaion into your life.
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1. Know the Word
You can’t meditate on what you don’t know. Read the word regularly. Highlight words or phrases you would like to incorporate into your daily thought life.
Write down those Scripture verses on a piece of paper or index cards. Take a week and memorize them. Go for one verse a week and memorize 52 a year! If you have a particular issue you would like to address (ie. depression or anxiety) memorize verses dealing with that topic. Don’t skip this step. This step is vital to make meditation work.
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3. Get Alone with God
Solitude and silence are also vital components of practicing biblical meditation. Go to a park and sit by a lake or another body of water that would increase tranquility. Unplug all devices, which may become a distraction. Clear your mind of anything weighing heavily on you. This is different from emptying yourself. Emptying yourself means you have not filled your mind with the good things of God, leaving you vulnerable to Satan’s schemes. By “clearing your mind,” I mean not dwelling on the worries of life, but dwelling on the true, noble and lovely things that Paul asks of us.
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One thing all religions can agree on is that breathing is the source of all life. Without breath, you are not alive. Yet in the busyness of life, we often forget to breathe. Our breaths are shallow, depriving our bodies of the life sustaining element breath brings. One way to lessen anxiety and focus your mind is to inhale for a count of five, then exhaling for a count of ten. Do this as many times as you need to reduce stress.
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Think of one verse you have memorized and repeat to yourself. First, say it in your mind several times. Then, say it aloud several times. Do this until it easily rolls off your tongue. Repeat these verses yourself after the exercise is over for 14 - 21 days (the length of time experts say it takes to create a habit.)
Debbie McDaniel talks about meditating on God's character, specifically, in her article, 10 Incredible Attributes of God (And Why It's So Good to Reflect on God's Character).
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Once recitation of Scripture is a habit, this is where your mind will go to when problems arise. Instead of dealing on a situation with hostility and anger, your mind will remember and recite those verses to keep you relaxed and relying on God. This can transform you from an angry person to one of joy and peace. Meditating will trade away anxiety in exchange for peace, anger for joy, and hatred for love.
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"Meditating on God’s Word may transform your heart, and inevitably your life."
You might be hesitant to try meditation because of the negative connotations associated with the Word. But by diving into Scripture and seeing meditation from a new perspective, meditating on God’s Word may transform your heart, and inevitably your life.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
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Originally published Wednesday, 30 May 2018.