Humans were made to wonder. Built into each of us is a curiosity about things and a capacity to pause and ponder.
When it comes to meditation, it shouldn’t surprise us that the world has taken hold of this means of grace that God designed to aid our spiritual journey and turned it into a human-centric self-help endeavour. Whereas world religions (and other groups) would define meditation as the act of stilling your thoughts, emptying your mind, and focusing on nothing outside of yourself, Christian meditation is different. Almost the complete opposite in fact.
God designed us to hear his voice, primarily through the reading of his written word. Moreover, he not only wants us to hear but also to reflect on what we’ve heard. In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald S. Whitney defines meditation like this:
“[Biblical meditation is] deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.”
Christian meditation doesn’t require the stilling of our thoughts, but rather encourages us to dwell on the truth found in Scripture; not the emptying of our minds, but the fixing of our eyes and affections on Jesus Christ and his gospel. Christian meditation should never be seeking to discover an inward strength to the exclusion of all outside influences; but the intentional reminding ourselves of the riches of the glorious reality of Jesus Christ. Never will true and lasting satisfaction be found when we look to ourselves in silence to meet our needs, but only when we acknowledge Jesus as our all-sufficient Saviour.
David Mathis leaves us with this great illustration in helping us understand the role of meditation:
There is a place in Bible reading for “raking” and gathering up the leaves at a swift pace, but when we “dig” in Bible study, we unearth the diamonds. In meditation, we marvel at the jewels.
For the Christian, meditation means “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16) and it is a wonderful means of God’s daily supply of grace to us through his word. The Psalmist declares in the longest Psalm in scripture:
Psalm 119:15 – I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
Psalm 119:23 – Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Psalm 119:27 – Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
Psalm 119:48 – I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
Psalm 119:78 – Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Psalm 119:97 – Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:99 – I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
Psalm 119:148 – My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
And so we press the bible to our hearts and we pray for the stirring of our affections as we return to the glorious truths of this gospel that has set us free. Let’s make sure we regularly dig deep in scripture, but also take time to marvel at the jewels.