“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1–2
When the Bible says to love the Lord your God with all your mind, I think meditation is the key in actively engaging this truth. Christian meditation is based upon on listening and consideration, and ultimately leads to a connection to the rest-filled reality of the gospel.
Many followers of Jesus may be a bit leery of the idea of meditation because of its connections to various other religious practices. Meditation, though, is a thoroughly biblical and deeply spiritual practice. Meditation was very familiar to the authors of Scripture, and it appears in the Bible fifty-eight times. Psalm 119:97, Genesis 24:63, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 119:148, and of course, Psalm 1:2 are just a few familiar instances where meditation is mentioned. Some Christians may believe that mediation is an ineffective use of time, but I think the scriptural examples show us that there is a vital need to develop this practice.
I do believe that there are some important distinctions to take note of when seeking to grow in the practice of meditation. Eastern meditation, at its core, is an attempt to empty the mind. Christian meditation’s purpose is to fill the mind with God’s truth. The Eastern approach is to detach from the world and be free from the burdens in hopes of experiencing nirvana; there is no god to whom you attach. The danger in this is becoming fascinated with disengagement with the world. The Christian method says there is a need for understanding in the midst of the reality of the world, which leads to a richer attachment to God.
When I was in Israel, I learned to use the Hebrew word haga to describe meditation on the scripture. The type of meditation I was learning about could not be explained as a mere memorization tactic. To haga was to devour the word, like a pride of lions circling and eating its prey. The idea is to move the word from outside of us, inside of us.
During that same trip, we briefly observed a class filled with students of the Bible. It was explained that they would spend 8-10 hours a day in the scriptural text. In just the few moments that I witnessed this group, I was moved to tears. The way that they clearly engaged the text with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength was deeply compelling. The emotion and anticipation in the reading felt electric in the room. They longed to not only know the words but understand them deep in their souls. This, I believe, is God’s desire for Christian meditation. This is His desire for us, His children.
What does meditation look like in your life?