The Discipline of Meditation
Tim Sherrill, Feb. 8, 2022
Satan majors in three areas with us... Noise, hurry, and crowds ... all distractions. If he can keep us engaged in muchness and manyness, he will be satisfied.
In Scripture however, God calls out in at least 58 passages with two distinct words which we call meditation or contemplation... used in various ways such as listening to God’s word, reflecting on his word and his works, rehearsing his deeds and ruminating on his love and laws and many more.
Repentance and obedience are essential features in any understanding of these texts relating to meditation.
Psalm 119:97-102 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me
Isaac meditating in Gen 24
Eli helping young Samuel on how to listen 1 Samuel
Elijah and the still small voice of God 1 Kings 19
Jeremiah... burning fire in my bones
Jesus.... regularly withdrawing to lonely places Matt 14:13, not to get away from people but so he could be alone with God.
What is meditation?
The ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word! It’s that simple. No esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.
The simple fact is that the creator of all the universe desires fellowship with us.
It is through this process of meditating on God’s word, listening to the Father’s voice and staying in step with the Holy Spirit that Jesus was able to be empowered to DO the will of God in all of its many phases of ministry, and we can experience the same empowerment.
This is not some buddy-buddy superficial relationship. In revelation when John reports his vision of being in the presence of Christ, he fell at his feet as though dead. When the disciples were gathered in the upper room in Acts 2, they experienced intense intimacy and awe filled reverence.
Rev 3:20... Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
We will not remain the same when we allow this to happen.
Everything foreign to His way we will have to let go... not have to but want to. For our desires and aspirations will be more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ. Everything in us will swing to the Spirit, like a needle in a compass goes north.
Gal. 6:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
1-This is not humanistic meditation... Unlike eastern meditation which emphasizes detachment as the end goal, Godly meditation emphasizes attachment. Detachment from all the world around us but attachment to the voice of God and freely being given over to his will. Our hearts and minds get redirected to the voice of God so that we can deal with humanity successfully.
Meditation sends us into the world with greater perspective and balance.
2-Can we really hear the voice of God? This seems difficult at first thought. It does not mesh with our modernistic, controlled way of living and thinking. A group reports that having focused on this part of their life over time has allowed them as 20th and 21st Century people to have experiences that one can receive instructions as clear as those given to Ananias in the book of Acts. If God is alive and active, why can’t his voice be heard and obeyed today?
Anyone who imagines they can simply begin meditating without praying for the desire and the grace to do so will soon give up, however.
How to meditate
1-It is impossible to learn how to meditate from a book. Learn to meditate by... meditating!
2-Give some part of each day to formal meditation. Maybe you start with five minutes, but then stretch it.
3-Cultivate “holy leisure”. Not everything should be measured in terms of output or productivity. Pursue holy leisure with as much determination as our schedules/appointments
4-Find a place that is free from all distractions... no phones, gadgets or other devices buzzing binging or vibrating. Nature views tend to be best. Find a consistent spot
5-Whereas study of scripture centers on exegesis (extracting specific meanings/interpretations) meditation of scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the text or passage. Humbly receive the word of God without prejudice or preconception. Bonhoeffer said, “just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart.
That’s it... that is meditation. Bonhoeffer’s students engaged in 30 minutes of meditation a day
6-Do not rush in your reading... take a single event, or a parable or even just a few verses or even a single word. Seek to place yourself into the text. Get your senses involved... listen to the sounds which are invoked, the sights, the people, the environment and place yourself in that midst
Always remember to enter the story not as a passive observer, but as an active participant...
The word of God is alive and active! Heb. 4:12
The bible doesn’t say anything... GOD SAYS IT!
7-Try and place your body in a calm non-movement approach
You can also meditate in contemplative prayer... the heavens declare the glory of God! Psalm 19:1
You can mediate upon events of our time and seek to perceive their significance and how God is moving in those events. We have a spiritual obligation to penetrate the inner meaning of events, not to gain power but to gain prophetic perspective.
As one author put it, “He who has mediated on the cross but has not meditated on the extermination camps of Dachau and Auschwitz has not yet fully entered into the experience of Christianity in our time.
Don’t get discouraged if your initial times of meditation have little meaning or experiences for you. This is progressive work. Chances are your mind is going to take some time to slow down and just listen to that still small voice.
You have had no formalization in this process as a youth or as an adult. Nor are you likely to have ever been encouraged to do so.
Perhaps you have felt or will feel, like this is too bizarre for you... that is your flesh and material self, listening to Satan accusing you... “Hey get busy in the real world”. Satan is after all, the great accuser. Rev. 12:10
God says, be still (stated as a rebuke to a restless and turbulent world... BE QUIET!) and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10
This needs to become a way of life. Not as a law or rule, but as an honest heart, striving to seek first God’s kingdom capable of being in step with the Spirit because we can hear the Spirit. Well equipped with the full armor of God... Ephesians 6:10-20