Christian meditation is an extension of Christian prayer. Prayer, for most people, is talking to God. Meditation is the opportunity for God to speak to us. Unlike Eastern meditation, which is often focused on emptying your mind, Christian meditation is about filling your mind with God and his truth.
Step one: Find your truth
The first step is to continually seek positive input. For many, this means reading the Bible regularly, but the Bible is only one source of truth. Books, music, movies (yes, even those), a local speaker, or a church sermon are all possible sources of positive input. The apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:8, says that we should meditate on anything that is true, noble, just, pure or lovely, not just God’s word. As you pursue these things, you are likely to find a statement, a word, or an image that encourages or convicts you. It does not matter specifically what it is, as long as it fits the criteria in Philippians 4:8. This is your first step of meditation; finding a truth to meditate on.
Step two: Find your place
Step two is to find a quiet place and a few uninterrupted minutes. There is no magic in this process, so the specific time and place are not supremely critical. Neither is your body position, nor the words you use. Five minutes is a good beginning goal. Longer is ok, but do not consider the process a failure if five minutes is all you can do. Your thoughts may wander, but consider this normal. Adjust your thoughts and press on.
Step three: Imagine
Now bring your truth front and center, whatever it is. Read it, listen to it, or just look at it. Try to calm your mind from all the bothers of the day. Sometimes, a few deep breaths can help to focus your attention. Engage your imagination and ask yourself who is speaking, and who was listening. Try to picture the scene. Are you near the sea shore or are you in a desert? If you are meditating on a photograph, picture yourself within the image and imagine what senses would be affected. What smells, temperatures or feelings might you experience? What other people are present? Are there crowds, or are you alone?
Step four: Ask God to speak
While you imagine yourself in the story, ask God to show you what you can learn from this experience. The intent is not to find some new, brilliant truth, unimagined by anyone else. Rather, the intent is to allow God to speak to you in the truth that is already present, giving you encouragement and direction. Thus, we speak to God in our prayers, and we invite him to speak to us in our meditation.
Step five: Repeat
Continually seek God’s guidance each time you meditate. Some meditation times will be better than others, but as you practice, the time will become more and more alive for you. Meditation is a spiritual discipline that must be practiced, and the dividends paid will be worth your effort.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which is often focused on emptying your mind, Christian meditation is about filling your mind with God and his truth. From Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1991), p. 43.
- This is your first step of meditation; finding a truth to meditate on.
- Engage your imagination and ask yourself..... Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1978), p. 26.
- Christian Meditation: A Beginner's Guide to Catholic Mental Prayer
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney
- Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images