I remember thinking that meditation was strictly for Buddhists or New-Age followers. Christians always seemed to be warning against any kind of meditation whatsoever.
Yet, what about verses like, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97, NIV)? In my Bible (an NASB), it mentions the word “meditate” 17 times in the Old Testament, and “meditation” 7 times. So, obviously, all meditation can’t be bad.
Then, I read this book called Into God’s Presence: Listening to God through Prayer and Meditation by Liz Babbs. (You can get it here.) It radically changed how I look at meditation. For Christians, we should definitely be meditating on God’s Word, as the Psalmist said earlier. We do not sit in silence, however, for self-discovery. Instead, we sit in silence to allow God to speak.
Try it for yourself with these six ways you can apply Christian meditation to your own Bible Study time. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
- Read a passage of Scripture several times. Dwell on any parts that stand out to you. Ask the Lord how you fit into the text.
- Close your eyes, and focus on how your body feels. Imagine God the Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit easing any pain or tension in your body.*
- Think back on your day. What moments were you happy with? Thank Him for those. What moments were you unhappy with, and how might God be calling you to growth with those things?
- Take deep breaths, as you repeat a meaningful word or phrase, like “Jesus,” “Be Still,” “I am His Beloved,” “Peace,” etc.
- For restless nights, read passages of God’s promises.
- Sit in silence, and wait for God to speak.
*= This one may sound weird, so below is a step by step guide. (NOTE: I cannot promise that you will feel immediately better, but the whole point of this exercise is to recognize God’s presence with you, even when your body is in pain or just feels exhausted from a long day.)
- Close your eyes, and have your back aligned with the chair by sitting up straight. Have your chin parallel to the floor, and your feet flat on the ground.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and hold it for a moment. Now let it out slowly through your mouth. Take another breath in, hold it, now let it out slowly.
- Feel your shoulders. Do they feel light and straight, or do they feel heavy and bending over?
- How do your legs feel? Are they tired? Sore? Relaxed?
- Be aware of your body. Is anything sore? Does anything hurt? Try to focus on that area and relax it. Maybe imagine Jesus coming to you and touching that area to heal it.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, take a deep breath out through your mouth.
A year ago, I hosted a women’s event at Biola University that centered on Christian meditation, since we were nearing the hectic time of finals week. Here is what I read to the women – try this for yourself, perhaps even with a group of people. You can do this with any passage of the Bible, in fact:
- Imagine you are on a dark, cold lake, with winds howling and waves crashing down hard. The boat you’re on is rocking harder and harder, until finally, you think the boat is going to flip over. Imagine yourself trying to tie ropes down and get the sails up as fast as you can, all the while being soaked to the skin. Men all around you are hurrying and yelling out orders. How does it feel like you could fall over the boat at any moment? Do you feel panic? Anxiety?
- Then you remember that you and the eleven other men are with Jesus. Jesus, the man who has given sight to the blind, made lame men walk, and even raised someone from the dead. But, where is He in all of this commotion?
- Imagine you go down into the stern, and see Jesus sleeping. What does Jesus look like as He sleeps? How does it feel to see this miracle man asleep during such chaos? What do you feel as you try to vigorously shake Him awake, demanding, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
- Now Jesus goes to the top, and walks to the side of the boat without saying a word. Do you feel trusting right now, or apprehensive of Jesus?
- Imagine Jesus rebukes the wind, and says to the sea, “Hush, be still.” Does He say this with a loud, booming voice, or a meek, gentle command? What does He look like? Now the wind dies down and it becomes perfectly calm. The winds and the waves completely stop.
- Now Jesus turns around and says to you, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” How does Jesus say this to you? Is there love or frustration in His eyes?
- Imagine yourself becoming afraid, and turning to the disciples, saying, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
- What are the crashing waves in your life right now? What things are you waiting for God to say ‘Be still’ on? Could God be calling you into a stillness? What would that stillness look like, and could this stillness bring you closer to God?
Remember, meditation is like a spiritual muscle. It takes time and patience to develop and gain discernment of God’s voice.
These exercises are also great for those who feel like they have never heard God’s voice before. Allowing the Lord to speak to you by giving Him the space to do so is a great first step. Also, meditating on specific passages of Scripture will allow you to better memorize them and keep them in your heart.
If my explanation still feels unsatisfactory to you, pick up Liz’s book and then tell me what you think of this.
Want a regular reminder? Download our free printable to hang on your wall: