Isn’t Meditation Just an Eastern Religion Thing?

Do you have a suspicious view of meditation? Maybe you think of it as a dangerous Eastern religious activity or just something people do during yoga. Yet the Bible speaks of meditation. “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1–2). “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways” (Psalm 119:15). So what is it? And how can we as Christians—and your teen students—engage in it?

1. Christian meditation is grounded in the TRUTH of God.
God is a personal God. And he speaks to us through his revealed Word—the words of the Bible. So we find the truth of God by looking to his Word. Whereas Eastern religions call for the “emptying of the mind,” Christian meditation stimulates thought and heightens meaning through reflection on God’s Word.

Do you find yourself tempted to speed-read a section of Scripture? That’s a sure way to reduce a deliberate reflection by a psalmist or other writer to a “blur of synonyms,” writes Edmund P. Clowney. “But the meditating reader can follow the psalmist’s path afresh and be directed and informed in his own reflections on the Word of God.”

2. Christian meditation responds to the LOVE of God.
“We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The more we are aware of God’s love for us revealed in his Word, the more we respond in love for him. Meditation is an act of praise. Because our meditation is centered on God, it continually breaks into praise of our triune God for all he’s done.

3. Christian meditation centers on the REVELATION of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). The power of meditation is not in the technique (it doesn’t strengthen us like “spiritual jogging”) but in the content. Prayer and praise fill the Bible; they are the content of inspired meditation.

We grow in the wisdom of God and the personal realization of God’s love. Clowney writes, “In both meditation and praise the Psalms are directed to a double end: the works of God and the name of God. The book of Revelation continues this pattern: ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! … Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?’” (Revelation 15:3–4).

“Thousands of people who would shrink from the practice of Christian prayer are suddenly ready to set aside 20 minutes twice a day for meditation that is supposed to be nondevotional.” —Edmund P. Clowney

Biblical meditation is distinctive in both principle and practice. “Postures, rituals, and rants are missing from the gospel of Jesus Christ for good reason,” continues Clowney. “Christian meditation follows its own way in the fellowship of the Spirit.”

So when you and your students read the words of Scripture, remember that you are encountering the real and living God. To meditate on Scripture, repeat the words in your head, write them down, and pray them back to the Lord. Think about how a cow eats: it continually chews on grass, reshaping it and getting more nourishment from it with every chew. It is much the same with Scripture. Fill your thoughts with what the Bible says about Jesus. Thank God that you are his disciple, and pray that you will hide his words in your heart (Psalm 119:11).

How do you encourage your students to meditate on God’s Word? (Remember that each study of So What? includes a devotional journal!)

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