I realize as we move on with this series that there are two things that need some clarification. We already looked at the idea of silence and quietness—this week we will look at meditation. Let’s begin by giving you the descriptions of the differences between these two disciplines. Although from an outsider’s position there may be little or subtle differences, I want to help you process the vast difference between these—-and the immense benefit from both of these disciplines:
Here the idea is shutting out your active mind —leaving lots of space for two things. First, space to give your mind a rest, relaxing your mind. It is a stopping of your mind from racing around solving all the problems of the world. Second, giving space to hear from God!
It is laying aside your agenda. It is putting aside the debris, hurriedness, and hectic pace to relax in God’s presence. Often music can help you with this. Using the “Jesus prayer” (more on this in the future) or other breath prayers help you to relax and learn silence and be at peace.
Sometimes you might hear this referred to as centring prayer or the prayer of quiet. It is a self-emptying kind of prayer. It is giving space for God to speak.
Meditation is much the same, but at the same time very different. The main difference is this. In meditation, even though you are expecting to hear from God— you are not presenting various needs or desires—you are more focused. You are not an open page so to speak, as in the prayer of silence. You begin intentionally with a focus or an object if you like. The focus needs to be Biblically sound —so I would initially recommend you begin meditation focusing on a scriptural passage.
Meditation on a scriptures is sometimes called Lectio Divina— which simply means the ‘divine reading’ of the text. Meditation is reading slowly, prayerfully and intentionally. The focus is not educational in nature—but relational. In other words you want to experience God, experience the text—and you want to hear God speak to you about the text. You learn to spend time with the text. You may read a passage over five times or more. You may have it read to you by another person or by a Bible app. You are wanting to hear from God about the text. The text of Scripture needs to be enlivened by the Spirit and speak directly to you.
In meditation you begin by asking God to speak to you out of the passage you are going to read. You are not studying it for information—you want to hear God speaking about the text—as that text relates to you. Your aim is to encounter God, hear God, and be drawn into God’s presence and changed.
You could also use a song, or an object (an art form or a painting). Sometimes you might hear this referred to as contemplative prayer.
These two disciplines take time. At a minimum I would suggest 10 minutes. These, by nature are not rushed—but require you to be at peace, rested, and settled. Begin either of these exercises with a time of settling down. Being comfortable, in a place where you will not be disturbed—and have time—precious time—to be alone with your Bible and God.
Both prayers of silence and prayers of meditation have their counter parts in the demonic realm. There are various forms of meditation and yoga which are not helpful and even detrimental in the development and growth of your spirituality. Your goal is Christlikeness, based on Biblical principles. All prayers of silence and meditation exercises need to be Christ centred.