Christian meditation—What is it?

In the Bible, the leader Joshua was specifically commanded by God to meditate on God's Law: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8). There is clear mention of meditating elsewhere in the Bible as well. So what does the Bible mean when it calls for meditation?

It must first be understood that Christian meditation is different from the concept of meditation found in eastern religions. In eastern traditions, the focus is generally to empty oneself, let go, and focus on achieving enlightenment. In contrast, Christian meditation is designed to help a person focus on God and His greatness.

In many ways, meditation can be seen as a form of prayer. In Psalm 77:12 we read, "I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds." Meditation remembers or reflects on God's goodness or His Word as an aspect of prayer and praise.

Meditation is often based upon Scripture. In addition to Joshua 1:8, other passages comment on this aspect. Psalm 1:2 states, "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 119 includes many examples of meditating on God's Word: "I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways" (v. 15); "Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes" (v. 23); "Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works" (v. 27); "I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes" (v. 48); "I will meditate on your precepts" (v. 78); and "My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise" (v. 148).

Christians can also meditate on God's great works: "On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate" (Psalm 145:5). These can include God's works in creation, in our own life, in the lives of others, or the providential way in which God operates around us.

Christian meditation is not a bad thing or something to be feared because it sounds similar to eastern mysticism. Instead, Christians are called to meditate upon God, His works, His greatness, and His Word as a form or prayer and remembrance that brings God glory in our lives. As we lie down at night, we can say as the Psalmist, "I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night" (Psalm 63:6).

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