by K.W. Leslie, 12 November 2019
MEDITATE 'mɛd.ə.teɪt verb. Think deeply or carefully about something.
2. Focus one’s mind for a period of time, for religious, spiritual, or relaxation purposes.
[Meditation mɛd.ə'teɪ.ʃən noun.]

Mention meditation to the average person, and images immediately come to mind of sitting cross-legged on the floor, hands out, eyes closed, humming “Om” or something mindless. ’Cause you’re trying to blank your mind.

And that’d be eastern meditation. It’s the sort we find among Hindus, Buddhists, and Californians. It’s grown in popularity because it’s a useful way to get rid of stress and relax. But it’s not middle eastern meditation, the sort we find among Christians.

Well, assuming we even meditate. Many don’t. Those who do, stumbled into the habit and don’t realize we’re actually meditating. Or we were given other names for it, like “contemplation” or “practicing God’s presence” or “Christian mysticism”—a term which tends to weird dark Christians out just as much as “meditation.” Many such Christians are terrified that if we practice any form of meditational exercise, we’re opening ourselves up to evil spirits, which’ll quickly rush in like shoppers on a Black Friday, and demonize us. (Assuming they even can demonize someone with the Holy Spirit in ’em. Dark Christians might officially teach it’s not possible… but always allow for the possibility. Yes it’s a paradox; they don’t care. Whatever keeps us fearful and cautious.)

I explain elsewhere why that sort of thinking is ridiculous. In proper Christian meditation, we open ourselves to nothing and no one but God. It’s not about blanking the mind, hoping insight will somehow fill the vacuum. Just the opposite. It’s about filling the mind. Namely with God.

We sit, stand, lie down, hang upside down—whatever position works for you—shove every other distraction out of the way, and think. Hard. Turn an idea over in our minds. Analyze it. Play with it. Repeat it till it’s memorized, or till we understand it better. And ask God questions about it: What can he reveal to us about this?

Yep, it’s a form of prayer. Which makes it all the crazier when dark Christians tell us, “Don’t do that! It’s demonic.”

Yep, this practice may sound mighty familiar, ’cause you’re already doing it. You just didn’t realize it was called meditation. People tend to call it “thinking really hard,” and when we talk to God about it, “lifting it up in prayer.” It may be a regular discipline; then again maybe not. But Christians stumble into meditation all the time, because it’s so useful. And it really oughta become a regular practice.

Looking for revelation.

When we meditate on something, we’re looking for God’s point of view on the matter.

It’s why most Christians who meditate, tend to pick a revelation to think about. No, not a revelation from the Book of Revelation; a revelation is anything God reveals. Yeah, it could be something he had a prophet put in the bible, like a memory verse. Could be something he personally told us. Something he told some other Christian, which we think is profound. Maybe a rote prayer we’re trying to understand. Maybe a sermon, or a theological idea. Really it could be anything which has to do with God, and bears thinking about.

And we don’t want to brainstorm about this alone: We want the Holy Spirit involved in the process. If we come up with a clever new idea, we want him to expose any flaws in our thinking lest we go some weird, ungodly direction. Lead us into truth, like Jesus told us he would. Jn 16.13

Many Christians practice a form of meditation called contemplative prayer, which emphasizes talking with the Holy Spirit: “God, what do you think about this?” The Spirit responds by either highlighting a truth, dropping a new idea in our heads, correcting, rebuking, guiding, and so forth. Sometimes it sounds like a whole conversation in our heads:

ME. “God, what do you think about [topic]?…”
HOLY SPIRIT. “Well, I like this part of it; not so much that part.”
ME. “Aww. I really liked that part of it.”
HOLY SPIRIT. “I know you did. That’s why I’m warning you away.”

Whether God is really speaking to us like this, or whether our minds are just making up his side of the conversation, is debatable. That’s why we always need to double-check: Whatever God-speaking-in-your-head told you, make sure it’s really God. Read your bible. Talk to mature Christians. See whether God told other people the same thing. If it’s really him, he did. If not, don’t act on it prematurely: Sit on it till God confirms it… if he ever does, which he won’t if it’s not really him.

Meditate deliberately.

Many Christians meditate quite a lot. Whenever it’s prayer time, whenever they have a quiet moment, they think about God. But not all of us do this intentionally. It’s more a spur-of-the-moment, when-I-have-time, the-kids-are-finally-quiet kind of meditation. Or when we’re stuck in line, can’t whip out our phones so they can distract us, and have nothing to do but think. In these times, “be still and know I’m God” Ps 46.10 comes to mind, so we do.

But like prayer, meditation needs to become a regular practice. Not whenever the mood strikes us: If we want a growing relationship with anyone, we need to make an effort to interact with ’em. Same with God. Make time to pray. And make time to meditate. Tack a few minutes onto your prayer time and use it to think. Pick a memory verse, and get to thinking.

Future articles on meditation will give you some techniques to attempt. For now, just get started. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. Y’know, he’ll likely direct you to the meditative techniques which work best for you. Me, all I can give you are the other possibilities.