By Chris WittsSunday 28 Sep 2014Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
Can a Christian meditate? In our fast paced society this spiritual discipline will help calm your spirit and get you in tune with God.
In his book The Purpose Driven Life,Rick Warren states: “Meditation is often misunderstood as some difficult,mysterious ritual practised by isolated monks and mystics. But mediation is simply focused thinking ─ a skill anyone can learn and use.”
If we are to enjoy intimacy with God,and gain from him the strength,guidance and compassion necessary to do his work in his way,mediation is a vital skill. As with any skill,we learn by practising the related discipline. We can read at length about how to swim,but the only way we will ever learn how is to jump in the water. So it is with mediation and reflection. If we begin each day by spending even a few minutes focusing our minds on God,we will soon develop the capacity to mull over the fruits of that thinking in such a way that we will find ourselves being transformed. If we conclude each day by recalling its events in a focused way,our subconscious minds will continue to process those thoughts,even as we sleep.
The following suggestions are gleaned from a variety of sources,but especially from Major Barbara Sampson,current author of Words of Life.
Preparing for mediation is critical. Without the proper focus,distractions can easily take hold. Here are some suggestions for getting started.
Find Time ─ Build time for reflection and meditation into your daily schedule so it becomes part of the regular rhythm of life. Start small and increase gradually. Meditating for just 5─10 minutes a day for a week can be very helpful. After the first week,lengthen or shorten you meditations as appropriate. Make sure that the goal is reasonable. You can also simply mediate whenever you feel you need it. Watch for unexpected opportunities that present themselves in any given day.
Find Space ─ Designate an area or corner of your room,maybe near a window where there’s nice light or a corner of the room that is not cluttered. Once you’ve found your place,add flowers,pictures of friends and loved ones,or meaningful objects to make it comfortable. If a special chair in a special room is beyond your reach,consider mediating in the shower,the car or bus,or even a line at a checkout counter!
Keep Distractions to a Minimum ─ Silence is the best way to mediate. Turn off the ringer on your phone,shut off the answering machine and pull the plug on you CD player. Put a “do not disturb” sign on your door and ask your family not to bother you during this time. Do whatever you can to limit distractions.
Be All There ─ Centre your body,mind and spirit on God,being especially conscious that you have brought all your senses with you. Sit,stand or kneel in a comfortable position. Breathe in and out for a few seconds,using a word such as “Jesus” or a phrase like: “Here am I and here are you.” Picture the breath of God filing your body.
Assemble Your Tools ─ You can use a variety of tools to aid reflections such as a Bible,a songbook,pictures or photographs,Christian poetry,prayers,reflections or liturgies. Bring along a notebook,small cards,pencil,pen,highlighter or personal computer to journal or jot down your thoughts and prayers.
Make a Commitment ─ Approach reflection and mediation as if it were a banquet rather than a quick snack. Affirm to God: “You serve me a six course dinner… You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing” (Psalm 23:5 MSG). And hear him say to you: “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door,I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you” (revelation 3:20 MSG).
How do I Mediate?
Now that you are ready,you may be wondering: What do I do? Everyone has a unique form of communing with God,but there are some popular methods that have been practised throughout the history of the Church that deserve our attention.
Mediate on Scripture
Enjoy the poetic language of earlier translations or modern pithy paraphrases. Of course,diving right into Scripture can be a bit overwhelming. There are a number of key portions of Scripture that are particularly suited to meditation.
Rediscover the Psalms ─ Described as the journals of the Old Testament,the psalms are the fruit of the mediation of others. They can help us learn to be open and honest before God. Read through a psalm,underlining all verbs (for example,Psalm 23). Consider all the things that God does as your Shepherd,and give thanks to God for his care. Take note of a particular phrase that jumps out at you or evokes a specific emotion. Talk to God about it in the way that is most helpful to you ─ either by speaking aloud,or by making a written or drawn record of your thoughts. Reread the psalm and note any new insights or feelings.
Pray the Scriptures ─ There is an enormous diversity of prayers found in Scripture,and they all have something important to say. If you are not sure where to start,try the short letters of Paul. Then look in the Old Testament for prayers such as those offered by Moses,Hannah,Nehemiah and Daniel. For what and when did they pray? How passionate were they? Thinking deeply about such prayers gradually transforms the way we pray.
Choose a Key Verse ─ Type or write out a key verse on a card or in a notebook to carry with you through the day. When opportune moments present themselves,take time to reflect on the verse and listen to God. This is a good way of memorising Scripture.
Mediate on the Events of the Day
Most people find that early morning or late at night before bed is the best time for mediation,but you can do it any time of the day. Find a time that works for you and make this your meditation time. Evaluate the past 24 hours. Where did you see God? How did you respond? Who needs your prayers? Here are some guidelines for reflection:
Recognise God’s Spirit ─ Look back through the day’s happenings,noting ways in which your responses to situations showed that you have progressed in your personal pilgrimage. Thank God for evidence of the work of his Spirit.
Confess your Shortcomings ─ Note any thoughts,words or actions that brought pain to the heart of God because they were un-Christlike. Ask God to forgive you and help you grow.
Intercede for Others ─ Note all people with whom you have come into contact. Let your memory serve as a prayer trail. Thank God for each person and intercede for them according to what you know of their needs.
Reflect on the Fruit of the Meditation of Others
Often we can be spiritually recharged through the writings of other Christians. Take time to read a chapter of an inspirational book each day. Let the insights found trigger mediations of your own. Some may find liturgy or song words particularly helpful. For others,meditative writings on a given subject may work better,while others may find looking deeply into a photograph,painting or drawing helps put you in the picture.
Use Everyday Objects as Reminders of God’s Presence
Jesus used stories featuring such everyday things as salt,lamps,planks and leaven. Centuries later Brother Lawrence discovered God amidst the pots and pans of a monastery kitchen. The fruits of his mediations were eventually published as The Practice of the Presence of God,re-interpreted by Joyce Huggett as Finding God in the Fast Lane.
Each of us can learn the art of allowing God to teach us new truths through stones and sand,weeds and fruit,pens and paper,currency and credit cards. In other words,we can live expecting God to speak to us at any point in any given day. And thinking deeply when he does so will lay solid foundations not only for our own growth,but also for the building up of the Body of Christ.