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Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one… who meditates on [God’s] law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water…
When we think of ‘meditation’, our minds usually wander to some spandex-wearing, yoga-trained guru-type sitting crossed-legged chanting at the top of a mountain on some large, balanced rocks.
No? Just me?
Forgive the cliche stereotype, but it is the most common answer given! Go ahead and search images on the word meditate and see for yourself.
At least, the above is the idea we get from advert media. Mediation is much broader than that and is something the people of faith have practised for thousands of years.

Meditation is being mindfully focused on God. Sit down in a quiet place, plant your feet firmly on the ground, open your Bible, and read through your selected passage of scripture slowly. Breathe slowly while allowing yourself to linger over the words and turn them into a prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you do this two or three times.

This is the beginning of meditating on the word of God. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment and use scripture to help you understand God’s person.

 

In our overly busy culture, we have neglected this forgotten practice. At the time of writing, the Western world seems to be rediscovering mindfulness and decluttering our thought lives. In truth, the church should have been an authority on the subject, but we, too, have forgotten the practice of Christian mindful meditation.

In Genesis 24:63, we see Isaac heading out to the field in the evening to meditate. Mediation was a common practice for ancient believers, but since it is not common for us, we need to rediscover how to practice it.
Meditating on scripture is so old that it feels like something new to us.
For a few years, I’ve been on a journey of rediscovering this meaningful way of connecting with our heavenly Father. This practice has allowed me to sit in the presence and hear the Holy Spirit like never before. In this article, I aim to give you one powerful way to meditate and some practical steps to put into action.

What Is Christian Meditation?

Christian meditation is distinct in that we are not looking to empty our minds but instead concentrate our thoughts on God. It is paying attention to the already present God and allowing ourselves to slow down enough to engage with our emotions, thoughts, and spirits while inviting God into the moment.
Meditation is simply a form of deeper concentration. In a manner, it is just like thinking.
Have you ever worried or fixated on something that was said to you or something that is bothering you? Have you ever had the kind of thought that nags at you so much that you cannot stop thinking about it? Congratulations—you’ve been meditating!
Now, that’s not necessarily the most helpful way to meditate, but hopefully, it helps you see that you can already do this; Christian mediation is more about redirecting our thoughts and imaginations toward Jesus rather than the noise of our lives.
It boils down to thinking intently about heavenly things. Colossians 3:2 says, Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’. In other words, have your mind fixated on heavenly things. Think continually about your heavenly Father, Jesus and what the Holy Spirit says to you.
So, how do you do that?

Meditate With Imagination

Psalm 77:5-6
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.  My heart meditated and my spirit asked…
I have found that while thinking upon things, the practice of using imagination has been a powerful way to immerse yourself not only in scripture, but also in a moment of prayer. In Psalm 77, the writer is going through anguish, and they begin to play in their mind ‘former days’, and as they imagine those former days, they move to a place of prayer where their ‘spirit asked‘ something of the Lord.
Who imagined our world and imagined the form it should take? Who imagined our existence and our personhood? Was it not God? He created our imagination and gave us the spark of life, and there is immense power in using our God-given imagination to focus our minds upon Him.
This is not about ‘making it up’ in our heads; this is about engaging our imagination in the process of prayer and reflection so that we might better concentrate on heavenly things. As we think about a scripture or a prayer, we begin to see in our mind the shape of what we are thinking about. As we age, we stop using our imagination and miss out on the wonders of seeing vividly what is and what could be in our imagination.
This may feel strange initially, but I want you to involve your imagination in prayer and meditation. When you put these principles into practice, I want you to try and engage all of your senses and place yourself in a moment of vivid and intentional thought towards God.

Meditating On A Scripture

In Psalm 77, the writer meditates on God’s deeds. In Psalm 119, they meditate on God’s words; further on in the Psalm, they meditate on God’s promises. You can meditate on a prayer, a Psalm, a specific word spoken over your life, a line of scripture, or simply on the thought of God’s love—take your pick!
Following some excellent teaching from Richard Foster’s book on Spiritual Discipline (which you can buy here on Amazon), I’d suggest starting with simple scripture to help you visualise and pray.
Pick a line of scripture that’s no more than a few sentences and complete – that is to say, it makes sense and isn’t a random line out of context. Here is a scripture to help you get started.
Exodus 24:15-18
15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
From now on, I’ll use the above scripture as an example as we explain how to do this practically.

Setting The Scene To Meditate

Find a time in the day when you can be entirely undisturbed. You may need to get someone to watch the kids, clear your diary for a short while and/or remove yourself from the house. Whatever you need to do, go and find somewhere that allows you the opportunity not to be interrupted.
Turn off your phone, and don’t play music. You want to have nothing but you, the scripture, and a moment to reflect on it and be fully present to the moment. Some people like to play music, which is fine for prayer and worship times, but for meditation, keep it off so you can be fully attentive. You may also find this unnerving, as silence can reveal some uncomfortable things in our hearts—but that is the point.
In this moment, you bring all of your inner turmoil and place it at Jesus’ feet, and that requires undivided attention. You may want a notebook and pen with you to help capture anything that comes out of this moment, as well as a physical copy of the Bible. Get one in a translation that you can easily understand. The Message or NCV versions are very readable. Check out the resources page by tapping here for some options. 
I suggest you don’t use your phone, as many notifications can derail this process. I use a cheap Faux leather A5 journal and a pen or pencil. Don’t worry about your handwriting or spelling; nobody will see this except you. Write the date in the left corner of a page, and after the session, jot down any thoughts, phrases or ideas that come to mind. You might want to fully write out your experience, any challenges that come to mind, actions you need to take, or doodle around a word that lays heavy on your heart.
There is no right way to do this, but capturing it somehow marks the moment and reminds you of what happened when you went through the highs and lows of your past.

A Suggested Process For Meditating

Begin in your quiet place by sitting (on a chair or the floor) and turning your attention to God. Meditation is not emptying the mind but concentrating it intently, so do that. Concentrate your mind on the name of Jesus. If it helps, speak or think the name Jesus as you breathe in and ‘Christ’ as you breathe out. Do this a few times until you feel the moment’s calm wash over you.
Open with a short prayer that is focused entirely on inviting the Holy Spirit to speak and reveal God’s presence and intent toward you. Simply saying, ‘Come, Holy Spirit, speak and move in me’ may be enough.
Read (or listen if you are using an audio version of the Bible) through the scripture once. Read it again, but slower. Linger over the words and capture the ones that stand out to you. Don’t try to work them out overly; just take them in as a whole reading. Do this several times, each slower than the first, until you have absorbed the words fully.
Next, you may wish to close your eyes and begin to imagine the setting of what you have just read. Begin to see it vividly in your thoughts. Having read our example of Exodus 24, what did the mountain look like? See the cloud that covered the mountain. See mosses in the distance. See the fire roaring at the top of the mountain. Really try to capture the details in your imagination.
Go further; think about the smell of the air. Can you smell the smoke? Can you feel the wind on your face? Is the weather cold or hot? Place yourself, as you are, at the base of the mountain. Really picture that scene and feel the gravel shuffling under your feet.
Look to your left and right, and see the people of Israel standing around you, looking up at the mountain with you. To the best of your ability, try to keep yourself in the moment and fully let the details of the scripture be alive in your thoughts.
Having A Conversation With Jesus During Meditation
Open your eyes and read through the scripture again. Close them and go back to seeing all the details, sights, sounds and smells in your thoughts. This time, God does not call Mosses up the mountain, but imagine He calls you by name.
You leave the crowd and climb to the top. Feel the pain of scrambling up the rocks. See the people being left in the distance. Feel the cool of the clouds as you climb higher. When you arrive at the top, imagine the fire and no figure in it. It’s roaring hot, and you feel the heat coming from the fire at the top of the mountain.
In your thoughts, sit down by this roaring fire that represents God’s presence and be still in this moment. You may want to speak and pour out your heart (don’t dress up your language like a performance prayer; just be real and natural). You may also want to just sit and be in God’s presence, that being enough.
In your own time, begin to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Listen and fight the urge to talk. Prayer and meditation are more about listening than speaking.
When you feel the time is right, imagine yourself getting up and leaving the mountain. Open your eyes and allow yourself to become alert.

Taking Action On Meditation

This might feel strange initially, but using your thoughts to bring the scripture alive can help us focus on God in the moment and purge any distractions.
In your meditation, you may have just heard nothing but have been content enough to sit and be still. You may have found it hard to hear anything (the first time is usually about getting rid of the noise in our lives).
You may have felt the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. Write down what you sense Him saying. If the Holy Spirit asks you to do something, you must obey, ensuring that it aligns with the Bible if you are unsure and use other mature Christians as a sounding board before you take any action that might be life-altering. Sometimes, we can mishear or misunderstand, and it’s important to seek counsel. Read the Bible and check that these thoughts align with God’s character.
This is only a suggested way of meditating on scripture; there are, of course, many other ways to practice ‘concentrating on God’. Whatever your preferred method, there is no substitute for getting away to a quiet place to sit in the presence of God.
Jesus frequently escaped to a quiet place before anyone had woken up. Most likely because of these moments, He could say things like John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these so you will be amazed.
If you want to hear the voice of The Father, you need to get away and spend some quality time with Him. Perhaps this is one way that will help you do so.
Have you tried meditating on scripture? What was your experience? Is there anything you would add to help engage meaningfully in meditating on the word of God? Leave a comment, and please keep it respectful.
KEY VERSES: 
Bible references are taken from the ESV unless otherwise specified.
Feature Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

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