What does Christian Meditation mean?
We assume you are referring to the new age practice of contemplative spirituality/prayer, which also goes under the names of centering prayer, meditative prayer or listening prayer and of course christian meditation, which is very popular today in some Christian circles, especially the ‘emerging’ or ‘emergent’ church.
Broadly, there are two types of meditation related to your question: biblical and the afore-mentioned so-called contemplative prayer. For the sake of clarity we will discuss both of them:
1. Biblical meditation
There are many Bible verses where the word meditate or meditation is used, and in most of these cases it is used to express the act of spending time thinking on God’s Word, His laws and contemplating them. It was when God’s people spent their time to think more about Him, to understand His Word and His works. E.g.:
- “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8
- “ I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.” Psalm 77:12
- “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” Psalm 119:15
- “Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.” Psalm 119:23
- “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” Psalm 119:48
- “Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.” Psalm 119:148
- “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
and many more verses like these.
How do we apply this to our lives and practise it? To Christian believers it means that we should not simply read God’s Word, but also contemplate (dwell upon) the passage we read, think about it, and how we can apply it to our lives. This way we can find wisdom for our choices, comfort in our hardships, teachings for our spiritual life, answers to our deepest questions, and directions for His will in our lives.
2. Contemplative prayer/meditation
The process of ‘silencing’ the mind and emotions by using different techniques to enter the state where your mind becomes empty and is ready to experience “the divine” (this explanation is based on some contemplative spirituality promoters’ statements).
The most common techniques are the repetition of a syllable or sometimes two syllable words (like ‘Jesus’ or ‘ma-ra-na-tha’), or through practicing specific breathing and body exercises (as in yoga). There’s no need to explain the whole process, because we want to make it clear that there is no such thing as meditative prayer or contemplative spirituality, or Christian yoga. These are dangerous Eastern philosophies which have nothing to do with the Bible and God.
If you look at the Bible, you will find no such thing as contemplative prayer or Christian meditation in it. Neither the Old Testament believers, nor the New Testament Christians practised such things. This meditation or contemplative prayer that is being promoted today has no roots or background in the Bible. On the contrary, its origin is in Eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, where through inner peace and silence (calming your mind) you can enter into a higher state, and find unity with ‘deity’ or find god in yourself. Similarly New Age followers as well as some Christians today took after this trend by wrapping this process in Christian terms and calling it ‘Christian meditation’ or ‘contemplative prayer’, chasing ‘higher spiritual experiences’. If you would like to know more about this, you might find this book very helpful – “A Time of Departing” by Ray Yungen1. It is an easy to read book, yet very thorough on this topic. Thus, the objective of contemplative meditation/prayer seems to be to disengage the mind as opposed to true biblical meditation where we actively use our mind to think about God’s Word.
My friend, if you are looking for some ways to practise this new age form of meditation and contemplative prayer, please know that this is not the way to reach God. Prayer is a very important part of a Christian’s life and it is our means of communication with God, let’s see what He has to say about it in His word – the Bible. Jesus said – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus also taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:5-14). Early churches prayed by using the full faculty of their mind. The Bible clearly says that for prayer you need to use your mind, speaking to God, bringing Him praises, requests, sorrows and worship, etc. Emptying your mind by repeating meaningless words and phrases, allowing your mind to be blank and opening yourself to some ‘entity’ to fill your mind is very dangerous. You would be in effect inviting a false spirit to speak to you – a spirit who is not from God (1 John 4:1).
You might be thinking of practicing this meditation to get closer to God, or simply to relax your mind from stress. My friend, God is not hiding. He revealed Himself in His Word – the Bible. If you are born again, you feel His Spirit moving in you, working in your heart. You don’t need contemplative meditation to communicate with Him or relax yourself. The Bible says God has given you everything that you need to live a fruitful Christian life. 2 Peter 1:3 says “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” There are no higher spiritual levels or higher spiritual experiences. The Father is there with you all the time. As we know, kids do not have to go into a meditative prayer to be able to reach their parents.
We would also like to point out, that whenever there was a direct encounter (by vision or voice, etc) between a believer and God in the Bible, it was always initiated by Him, not by men going into meditation. On the contrary, God clearly forbids all mystical practices used by men to reach the spiritual world, because it leads to false spirits and witchcraft.
We hope this information will help you in your further walk with God. We are told to test the spirits, because not everything that sounds, looks Christian or is practiced by Christians is actually biblical.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
- Ray Yungen, 2003. A Time of Departing: How a Universal Spirituality is Changing the Face of Christianity. 1 Edition. Lighthouse Trails Publishing. [↩]