Our communication with God must be enhanced if we are to truly reach the level of relationship that we long for. As a part of that process, it is essential that we recognize that the ancient art of mediation has been lost to the Western church. We see mediation as nothing more than a corrupt and evil part of Eastern religious practices, yet there is so much more to it than this if we truly understand what it is.
Last week I asked the question, “What can a Christian learn from the practices of Yoga?” Although you can probably already guess that it has something to do with the idea of meditation, before I attempt to actually answer the question, I think it would be best to actually define what is meant by Yoga. In general in the West, when most people think of Yoga it conjures up images of individuals sitting, lying or stretching out in odd postures for physical exercise, however, as an ancient Eastern religion, brought to America from the Swami’s of India, there is a great deal more to it than that.
While it was the physical postures of Yoga that gained popularity in our culture that seeks after physical fitness, it is the spiritual side of Yoga that we must examine in order to understand what we can actually learn from it. Though American Yoga may have lost its way, there remains a deep theme of spiritual meditation that rests at the center of spiritual yoga. It has been explained by the book Vedantic Meditation as follows:
Vedanta’s main approach is threefold: hearing the teaching with a receptive mind (shravana), deep thinking about it (manana), and meditating on it consistently (nididhyasana) until full realization dawns, which is a state of samadhi or transcendent awareness. Such hearing is not simply noting the words of the teachings; it involves a deep inner listening with an open mind and heart. Such thinking requires full concentration and a firm intent to understand oneself. Such meditation is a repeated practice of self-examination and self-remembrance throughout the day as one’s primary mental state.
While the focus of Vedantic Meditation may be light years off course, the concept is not. Consider the Vedantic threefold approach to meditation outside of the context of its False Eastern Religious base:
1. Have a receptive mind to the teachings.
2. Think deeply about what you are learning/hearing.
3. Meditate upon it consistently until you have a spiritual understanding of it.
Outside the confines of this false religion, the principles identified by Yoga are deeply spiritual.
At this point it would be helpful to remember that Satan is not a creator. You may ask, why this is important now. The answer is found in the understanding that since Satan never created anything and since he can only kill, steal and destroy (or in the case of this principle, corrupt), then the concept of meditation must have a spiritual basis from the mind of one who can create. Since there is only one creator, I want you to recognize that it is our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe who established the principles of meditation. Satan merely stole the concept and corrupted it in an effort to keep those who are “religious” from accepting it. Meditation is a lost art that must be redeemed if we are to truly walk into the depths of relationship with the Father that we claim to desire.
So, just what is Christian meditation and why would we emphasis it here at the beginning of a focus on communication with God? Is there even a basis for this concept that can be identified in the Scripture? Before we begin to answer this question, let me ask you – Do you enjoy the Book of Psalms? Do you consider them valuable to your spiritual walk? Have you received spiritual edification from reading these Davidic writings? If so, would you lift up your hand. Now that you have committed to the value of the Psalms, let me suggest to you that most of what is written there is nothing more than a written record of the meditations of David. Don’t believe me, then look for yourself:
Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
Prayer and Praise for Deliverance from Enemies
A Meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite.
O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
David himself asks the Lord to consider his meditation (you were asking earlier why we would begin a study of prayer with a teaching on the concept of meditation – well look no further than Psalm 5:1 where David asked the Lord to consider his meditations as a prayer). The captions or headings in our Bibles are often overlooked, but it might be of value to consider that, particularly in the Psalms, they are frequently inserted not by the editor of the translation, but by the author or compiler of the book. Such is the case here, where the original Hebrew caption indicates that this is a meditation or a rambling poem of David. In other words he is simply pouring his heart out to God and asking Him to consider what he is thinking about.
Meditation is considered to be the practice of reflection or contemplation. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines it as: “A private devotional act, consisting in deliberate reflection upon some spiritual truth or mystery, accompanied by mental prayer and by acts of the affection and of the will, especially formation of resolutions as to future conduct”. In scripture there are basically two Hebrew words translated as “meditate” or “meditation”.
haguwth (haw-gooth’); from OT:1897; musing:
hagah (daw-gaw’); a primitive root [compare OT:1901]; to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication, to ponder:
siyach (see’-akh); from OT:7878; a contemplation; by implication, an utterance:
siyach (see’-akh); a primitive root; to ponder, i.e. (by implication) converse (with oneself, and hence, aloud) or (transitively) utter:
In the New Testament the word is:
meletao (mel-et-ah’-o); from a presumed derivative of NT:3199; to take care of, i.e. (by implication) revolve in the mind:
This is a deeply Biblical concept. Isaac went out into the field to meditate in Genesis 24:63 and Joshua was reminded to meditate on the Law day and night in order to act in accordance with it in Joshua 1:8. We are even reminded that there is a book of remembrance of those who fear the Lord and meditate on His Name (Malachi 3:16).
So, what then should we meditate on:
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another,
And the LORD listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the LORD
And who meditate on His name.
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
The Things He Does
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
His Commandments and Statutes
48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
And I will meditate on Your statutes.
148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
His Majesty and Wondrous Works
5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
1 Tim 4:12-16
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.