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Meditation

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  • 1. Christian Meditation: Path to Spiritual SuccessWhat is meditation? Meditation literally means the focusing of the mind, the act of pondering on something, ortheserious study of a certain subject. It also refers to the act of contemplation and reflection. There areinnumerable definitions of the word, depending on the context. The term is so broad that differentcultures and religions have varying practices. The modern world defines it as "… a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processesunder greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/orspecific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration" (Walsh and Shapiro, 2006). The mentionedbenefits have popularized meditation in the present world. In the Christian context, the act alsodoes require a person’s mental faculty, sinceChristianmeditation is the process of deliberate focus of thoughts on God’s Word. However, it goes beyond thereasons of calmness, the reduction of stress, and the fostering of mental health. It is an act that requiresdevotion to God and aims to strengthen one’s personal intimacy with the Lord. Joshua 1:8 reveals that it is a commandment from the Lord. “Keep this Book of the Law always onyour lips; meditate on itday andnight, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then youwill be prosperous and successful.” Meditation is simply not optional, since God commanded it.Christian Meditation vs. Non-Christian Meditation Non-Christians’ meditative practice vary from one to another, depending on the culture and theorganization. Their meditation involves chants, rituals, specific postures and uses tools.Easternmeditations usually involve the emptying of the mind in order to achieve relaxation. Those who practicethis kind of meditationseek to achieve a self-induced state of tranquillity, a better condition of the mind,or a secured position in the afterlife. On the other hand, for believers of Jesus Christ and recipients of His salvation, there’s only one toolfor meditation and that is the Bible. Christians regard it as the handbook for Christian life. (“All scriptureis given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction inrighteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Timothy 3:16-17). Believers accept the authority of the Bible since it is from God Himself, (“… thus saiththe Lord.”) Also, Christian meditation is not the emptying of the mind, but rather the filling and of one’s mind ofGod’s truths. It involves reading Bible passages several times with a purpose of hearing from God. In meditation, the role of the Holy Spirit is very crucial to one’s accurate understanding of theScriptures. The Holy Spirit, God Himself, is the only One who can give us the ability to understand thedeep truths of His Words. (“… But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searchethall things, yea, the deep things of God”. 1 Corinthians 2:10; “Reflect on what I am saying. For the Lordwill give you insight into all this.” 2 Timothy 2:7.) It does not require postures and rituals but prayer, a personal and intimate conversation with God,is very necessary. The ideal aim for Christian meditation is not primarily for the self but it is instead a selfless act that isfor God. It seeks to give God pleasure and honor through obedience. (“May these words of my mouthand thismeditationof my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”Psalm 19:13-14.) Yet despite the selfless motive, a Christian does not end meditation empty handed. In return, Godblesses His faithful people with intimacy with Him, heavenly peace, a renewed hope on His promises,guidance,a changed heart, and a quiet but powerful confidence in Him.Why meditate?
  • 2. Meditation allows us to know God. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 John Calvin wrote “Man needs the Scriptures to reach a true knowledge of his creator.” Man canrealize God’s splendor and majestic character through creation. However, it is God’s desire that weknow Him more intimately. He thus gave us the light of His Word. We know that God is faithful. He is a jealous God, He loves obedience, He is Creator, He is Judge, Heis love, etc. because of His Word. Knowing who God really is will lead us to mature in our faith. We willbe able to comprehend how worthy God is of reverence and devotion. Once we know God, we will be compelled to obey His Word and carefully abide in it. We will bemoved not to do it out of obligation, but out of love and honor for the Almighty. There will also be achange in how we relate to Him, both as Father and as God.Meditation renews our minds and hearts. It transforms us to be more like Christ.“But be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, perfect, acceptable will of God.” Romans 12:2 “Andwe all, who with unveiled faces contemplatethe Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 The ultimate goal of Christianity is to pursue Christ-likeness. Only God has the power to enable us tobe more like His Son— to be more like Him. Meditation enables us to reflect and see the real conditionsof our hearts and helps us see the need to be changed for the glory of God.Meditation causes us to be dependent on God alone. “May your unfailing lovecome to me,LORD,your salvation, according to your promise; then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in Your Word.” Psalm 119:41-42 When we quiet our hearts in prayerful and worshipful meditation, we have renewed focus on theabilities and character of God as revealed from His Word. This strengthens us to live powerfully,dependent on Him alone. We will alsobe able to discover and stand firmly on the “exceeding great and precious promises” (2Peter 1:4) of God. As we understand God’s faithful character, we are able to claim God’s Word with fullconfidence and hope.Meditation yields wisdom and guidance. “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” Ps 119:99 “Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:104 “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 3:6 One of the Psalmists, King David has repeatedly expressed his complete reliance on God’s Word forwisdom. We too have access to the exact same powerful wisdom through meditation. It is the timewhen we receive clear and specific instructions from God. The guidance that every believer desires isgiven through meditation.Meditation reveals God’s plans
  • 3. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..” Jeremiah 29:11 Realizing that God is sovereign and is in control of our circumstances gives us a heavenly peace—thekind that “surpasses all understanding”. God’s plan for the world and eternity is all found within theBible. We begin to understand that life is beyond the physical realm through deliberate study of God’sWord. We learn of God’s judgment and the future glory of His kingdom. These truths enable Christiansto endeavor to live for the future and not merely for the world today. The Bible is full of comforting passages that encourage and uplift. God has so graciously given us atool that would help us press on in life. This may only be unlocked through meditation.Meditation draws us nearer to God and gives us joy. “But if from there youseekthe LORD your God,you will find Him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29 “The precepts of the LORD are right, givingjoy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:8 Seeking the Lord through intense and deliberate meditation makes us feel the presence of God. Ourminds and hearts quiet down in the mere knowledge of His nearness. We naturally grow more in lovewith those whom we are closest. Thus, faithful meditation leads us to love the Lord our God. There is also inexplicable joy in being able to feel the Lord. Christians then experience delight,comfort, and blissful pleasure. For those who feel desperation and discouragement, meditation is thekey to restoration and joy.Meditation teaches us how to relate to God in prayer. “This then is how you should pray…” Matthew 6:9 The Bible is crowded with individual events that show how God’s children commune with Him. Godhas given us a model of how prayer should be (Matthew 6:9). Also, God has expressed how He wants usto convey our hearts to Him. For example, Job has freely asked questions, the prophet Elijah expressedhis desperation, King David earnestly asked for deliverance, and the Psalmists uttered praises andworship. Ultimately, the Bible records how Jesus Christ Himself prayed and gave importance to it. Often, we shut our doors with the desire to seek the Lord but end up staring at the blank walls.Meditating on God’s Word will teach us how to pour out our hearts to God in prayer and waitexpectantly for His answers.How do we meditate?Preparation for Meditation:1. Commit to a dedicated time when you can be alone. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2 Our busy schedules are often the reason why we excuse ourselves from having meditations.However, like everything else in life, we need commitment. The growth of our spiritual lives and ourability to face the challenges of our physical existence depend on our commitment to meditation. JesusHimself made it a point to be alone with God.
  • 4. Noise, family, television and other things will hamper our concentration on God’s Word. Seek tofocus on God and be alone with Him. He promises that we will find Him, “… if you search with all yourheart.” The Bible has repeatedly revealed that we need to constantly ponder upon Bible truths more thanonce a day. King David wrote on how he stays awake at night to meditate on God’s promises (Psalm119:148).Meditation does not need to take two hours of your day, although that would be great. A fewdevoted minutes in the morning and evening will be a good start. There is also no limitation as to whereand when we can remember the verses. We can think about what we learned in our morning meditationall throughout the day, such as during the elevator ride, lunch break, and even a shower.2. Make or use a devotional plan. “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” I Corinthians 14:40 In order to have an efficient study of God’s Word, there should be an organized plan as to the topicsand on what areas of the Bible you will study. This helps us to grasp and completely digest specific truthsat a time, in contrast to reading any Bible passage randomly.Actual Meditation Steps:1. Place yourself in God’s presence through prayer. Ask for His help.“Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” Psalm 119:33-34 Since meditation is taking time to hear God’s voice, it is very important to begin with a prayer.Prayer allows you to properly condition yourself to be willing and humble to submit to whatever Godwill reveal to you. Also, apart from the Holy Spirit, there will be no spiritual understanding of Bibletruths. Therefore,we need to ask help from the source of Scripture Himself. Doing so pleases Godbecause we accept our inability and express our dependence upon Him alone.2. Study the Bible “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved …who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 Just like any degree or subject, there should be intentional study andinvestigation in order to learn.Merely reading a passage may not be enough for us to completely and accurately understand the Bible.We can make use of printed and online devotional materials or take time to study Scripture footnotesand cross references. Taking down notes also helps us to have better learning. We may also do constant reviews of thetruths that we have already learned so that we will not forget. Going back and reading our notes willremind us of how God has so graciously taken the time to talk to us. We should also memorize Scriptures. This will help us bring to mind God’s commands and truths anytime, any where. We will be able to victoriously combat any temptation and overcome problems if wememorize God’s Word.3. Contemplate on how you can practically apply God’s truth or command to your life and presentcircumstances. “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” Luke 11:28 “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” Psalm 119:5
  • 5. Sometimes as college students, we tend to have knowledge of some basic fact but we take no timeto learn how it may help us practically. The learning then becomes useless. It is the same with the Bible.The Scripture is not intended for head-knowledge. God gave His Word for life application. We have to ask God to teach us how we could use what He has revealed in different areas of ourlives. Application and obedience are the only ways we can fully appreciate and experience the powerand blessings of God.4. End with prayer. “At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.” Psalm 119:62 Since meditation is reliant upon the Holy Spirit’s revelations toyour heart and mind, God is worthy ofgratitude and He is the only one who deserves the credit for enabling us to successfully and obedientlymeditate. We should thank Him for showing to us His divine truths, giving us advice. Through His Wordand Spirit, we have peace, hope, and help. We also have to continue pleading God for empowerment. We have to remember that “… the fleshis weak.” Therefore we have to end our meditation by articulating how much we need God to cause usto abide in Christ and in His Words. “The Bible is a vessel of heavenly truths for the children of God and meditation is its key.”