Last week I shared a definition of Christian meditation that I hope strips away some of the consternation and befuddlement often associated with this discipline. Meditation, most simply, is prayerful listening to God.
We can meditate, for example, when we read Scripture in an attitude of prayer, inviting God to speak directly into our lives through his truth.
We can also meditate when, during a time of prayer, we stop to listen in our heart and mind. We might preface this time by directly inviting God to speak. Occasionally we will “hear” him as we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit or as a word of truth, an idea, or a Bible passage comes to mind. At other times, it may just be silent. That’s OK. This doesn’t mean we have “failed” at meditation.
It’s important to clarify here that listening to God does not mean coming up with our own ideas and claiming they’re God’s. Unfortunately there are (and always have been) spiritual charlatans who come up with all sorts of poppycock and claim it’s a “word from the Lord.” We must be very, very careful when we listen to God in meditation – we must always have an attitude of humility, discernment, wisdom, and honesty with ourselves. God’s guidance given to us in meditation will always, without fail, line up with the truths of Scripture.
The one way Christian meditation comes most easily to me is to enjoy times in nature; as I focus on the beauty of our created world, I’m drawn to the real and near presence of the Creator. God reveals himself in the beauty of creatures and plants, in the sound of wind and birdsong. The beloved hymn, “This Is My Father’s World,” expresses the idea well.
Consider these words, penned in 1901 by Maltbie Babcock:
the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.
If the weather allows, sometime this week or next, “meditate” by going outside and soaking in the beauty of the outdoors. Breathe deep the air, ask God to quiet your spirit. Enjoy God’s presence as you take it all in: the sights, the sounds, the smells. (You can even do this with kids—as they play or as you walk together, take short pauses to quiet your own mind and turn to God.)
See? Meditation isn’t that hard or “weird” after all!