Meditation: The hardest spiritual practice?

Meditation is the toughest discipline. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t believe it is. When I say “toughest” I don’t mean that it is difficult to do. I mean that it is so out of the ordinary in my life that it requires a speed at which I don’t slow to enough. Meditation as resting in the presence of God requires being unhurried. That is why it is hard for me! However, I believe there is a depth of person that I am missing out on the more hurried I live. The more I practice resting in the presence of God, the more I sense He is doing a work in my heart and soul. Below are some thoughts on how you can join me in the journey to “practice” the way of living that leads to the deeper life, a life in which we know Christ and we even begin to be like Christ. These words of Dallas Willard are helpful, “Hurry is an attitude. It’s not necessarily the same thing as speed — it’s trusting in your speed. It comes from pride and trying to do too much. Good things do not come from being in a hurry! We need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry!

Notes on Meditation:

  • “True contemplation is not a psychological trick, but a theological grace” -Thomas Merton
  • “Hurry is not of the Devil, it is the Devil.” -Carl Jung
  • Bible uses 2 different words to describe mediation and it uses them 58 times.
    • Those words mean: listening to God’s word, reflecting on God’s works, rehearsing God’s deeds, ruminating on God’s law.
  • Meditation matters because changed behavior comes from our encounters with the living God.
  • Meditation is mentioned multiple times in Psalm 119
  • Isaac in Genesis 24:63, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 1:2, etc.
  • Jesus models meditation when he goes off by himself numerous times to spend time with the Father (Matthew 14 among others)
  • Christian Meditation defined:
    • Christian meditation is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.
  • Jesus calls us to this in the parable about him being the good shepherd and how his sheep hear his voice.
  • Meditation helps us to “live in His presence in uninterrupted fellowship”
  • “In meditation we are growing into what Thomas a Kempis calls ‘a familiar friendship with Jesus.’ We are sinking down into the light and life of Christ and becoming comfortable in that posture.”
  • Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind. Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind.” We fill it with the way we rest in the presence of God and listen to his words.
  • Eastern meditation is an attempt to be detached from the world, Christian meditation is an attempt to be present with God, so we can be more fully present in the world.
  • Meditation is not the attempt to be so focused on heaven that it does not matter here, as Oliver Wendell Holmes points out “Some people are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.”
  • Meditation is intended for actual contact and communion with God; it is learning to rest in the presence of the Divine Creator.
  • Meditation cannot be learned from a book, it is learned from practicing meditation. That being said, there are some helps to get us started.

Some helpful tips for mediation:

  • Time: The time of day doesn’t matter as much as the posture in that time. It must be unhurried. It may even be helpful to set an alarm and then you know when you actually have to leave you will be warned.
  • Place: Quiet and free from distraction. If there is no possible way for that, then use headphones and wordless music to allow you to listen. If possible, a good view of God’s creation is helpful. There should be no phone, computer, smartwatch, or any other distracting device with you (if you are using them for the helps, place them in do not disturb)
  • Posture: Find the most comfortable and least distracting position. It may very well be sitting is the best. You don’t want to fall asleep and you don’t want to be thinking on how your knees hurt. It may be helpful to even place your hands palms up as in order to say, I want to receive what you have for me God.

A few ways of meditation:

  1. Meditate on Scripture: think on a phrase, a word, or an event. Allow that to take root in you as you rest on that
    1. “For God so loved” (John 3:16)
    1. “My peace I give you” (John 14:27)
    1. Place yourself in the narrative of Scripture (the prodigal, woman at the well, Peter, Paul, etc)
  2. Re-collection or Centering: Learning to rest all things in the presence of God. Physically place palms down to “let go of” whatever you are holding too tightly or is burdensome, the doctor’s appointment, your schedule, your conflict with your neighbors. Place your palms up to receive God’s peace and presence for the doctor’s appointment, your schedule, etc.
  3. Meditate on all that God has created: go for a walk and notice the beauty of God’s creation and think on the depth of his love.

All quotes unless noted otherwise stem from Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Discipline.”

1 thought on “Meditation: The hardest spiritual practice?

  1. It has been my practice since retiring to start my day with a cup of Colombian coffee, a prayer while it cools, and then staring into our faux fireplace. While watching the faux flames dance upon the faux brick back of the unit I practice mindfulness meditation for 100 breaths and then I contemplate the Creator and my relationship with Him. I usually get up between 5 and 5:30 am and work through this process until about 7 am when Sue and little Hershey rise for the day’s events. My time with God will include contemplating scripture that puzzles me, how He works in my life, how He works in the lives of others, and other aspects of life. There are challenges to staying with a God train of thought. They include what my next charcuterie challenge will be, what will be the next thing Sue will be mad at me for, and what tasks will I need to complete in that day. I really like that time by myself. It is also the best tasting cup of coffee I’ll have all day.
    Have a great day, sir!

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