Meditation has been considered one of the spiritual disciplines for as long as there was such a thing. David, the Psalmist and a man after God’s own heart, practiced this discipline regularly, as did many of his fellow Psalmists.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~ Psalms 19:14
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. ~ Psalms 119:15-16
For many of us, meditation may conjure up images of half-naked, middle-eastern men sitting on grass mats with their legs in odd positions. While that is often referred to as meditation, this it not the meditation that is referred to in God’s word. Meditation in God’s word is a mental focus. It is a purposeful effort toward directing our minds and heart in the way of right, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy things. (Philippians 4:8).
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. ~ Psalms 119:27
The definition of meditation according to Adele Calhoun, is “to more deeply gaze on God in his works and words.” This definition is consistent with God’s word. It also gives us some insight into what we are to focus our thoughts and attentions on during that time of purposeful mental direction.
To focus on His works and words, what better thing could we possibly do for our hearts and spirits? One of the wonderful benefits of this purposeful thinking is that we naturally progress to thankfulness. We can’t help it. When we are considering how God has moved in the world, in time, or in nature, we can’t help but find our hearts praising Him with a spirit of gratitude.
This practice takes many forms, and can be practiced with the help of silence and solitude, or in the midst of busyness. Both have their place among the practices of a Christian seeking intimacy with God.
During a time of meditation, we ponder Him. We consider His power, His forgiveness, and His grace. We allow our minds to praise Him for all we note, all we consider and all we recognize as from Him. We give our minds a rest from worry, anxiety and self-depreciating thoughts. We bathe our minds with Him, and all things of Him. And, we naturally thank Him for all we consider. In this mental state, we are able to give ourselves over to the beauty of our own lives, His work in us and in others.
Meditation is a wonderful preparation for so many other disciplines, like Bible reading, prayer, intercession, confession and journaling. When it is a state of mind that we continue into our busyness, it can guide us to making wiser choices and guarding our words more effectively. When meditation becomes something that we do “day and night” we will find that our hearts are more sensitive to His presence at all times.
Here are some ways that you can incorporate meditation into your life, and thus prepare your heart to enter into a rich time of deep gratitude and appreciation for God and his wonderful work in your life:
Nature: One of my favorite go-to methods of entering into a time of meditation with God. At this time of year, I can’t help but note His beautiful work with the trees as the season transitions. No matter your location or your season, God can be seen in the world He created. Breathe deep of God’s world and breath out gratitude.
God’s Words: When we couple meditation with God’s words by reading them regularly, they can become part of our thoughts. Whether you take in a few words or a few chapters, you will likely find specific words or thoughts that stick with you throughout the day. You can reflect on a single idea, allowing your mind to bathe in it: “I will mediate on your law” …what does that mean? How do I do that? How do others do that? Lord, help me to mediate on your law.
Music: Surrounding ourselves with godly music can do wonders for our focus on God’s laws, works and blessings. We can use words from praises to God to challenge our spirit as we go about our days. Again, we can focus on a phrase or a word to direct our hearts to Him.
This is hardly an exhaustive list. God has created our hearts, minds, spirits and bodies in a way that we can engage with him completely. Meditation allows us to do that, by way of purposeful focus on Him in many ways. I hope you are able to find the blessings of this discipline yourself, and note how gratitude flows so naturally as a result.
What are some ways that you practice godly meditation?