We are all familiar with stress. Stress is a normal part of our lives, and in fact, some stress is good, as it motivates us to solve problems and work hard. But too many of us struggle with overwhelming, pervasive anxiety that seems to influence every aspect of life – relationships, job performance, raising children, hobbies. It even influences our physical health, contributing to inflammatory responses and leaky gut. It inhibits healthy digestion. When the body is stressed, it begins to break down. We can make great nutritional choices, but if we aren’t managing our stress, we’re fighting an uphill battle. Meditation is a powerful tool for the management of this constant daily stress.
“Can a Christian meditate?,” a young woman asked me nervously during a counseling session. She was struggling with anxious thoughts, and I’d suggested meditation as a tool to calm her mind and focus on the Truth. It’s a question reflective of a fear of something commonly practiced by non-Christian organizations, without understanding the Biblical applications.
Let’s take a quick look at Biblical meditation. In Psalm 1, David contrasts the godly man and the ungodly man. The godly man follows after the way of the Lord, “his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night” (Psalm 1:2, CSB). In Genesis 24:63, we read that Isaac had gone out into the field to meditate when he looked up and saw Rebekah coming in the caravan. In Psalm 104, David writes a Psalm of praise to the Creator, ending with “May my meditation be pleasing to him; I will rejoice in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34, CSB). The word means just exactly what you think it does: to muse or commune with Someone unseen, or to pensively think on something. It’s different than prayer, but it wouldn’t be wrong to assume prayer accompanied meditation. Biblical meditation is a spiritual discipline. It was practiced by the great fathers of our faith; why would it now be wrong for a Christian to meditate?
So how does a Christian meditate? We see a few guidelines in these examples. First, the godly man meditates on the Lord’s instruction, His Word. Pray that God will bring a single verse to mind for you to meditate on, one that you need to understand to grow in your faith. Second, meditation happens in solitude. Isaac went out into the field, alone. Maybe he was walking, enjoying the rhythm of moving in nature. Maybe he was sitting still, silent. Meditation can happen in both circumstances; it is about getting away from the bustle of your day and quietly fixing your mind on God’s word. Third, meditation is closely followed by rejoicing. When our meditations are on the Lord’s instruction, He is at work in our minds. When our minds are filled with the goodness and Truth of God, we will be compelled to rejoice!
Give it a try. Make this spiritual discipline a habit in your life. I promise, God will bring great peace to your spirit when you quietly commune with Him, silent, letting His words echo in your mind. We know that God speaks to us when we are in stressful times: Moses wrote the Torah while wandering in the desert, Paul wrote many of his epistles while in captivity or during stressful missions, David wrote many of his psalms while running for his life, and John wrote Revelation while in exile. Turn your mind to the Word of God when you’re under stress; He will speak to you. Let a time of quiet solitude dwelling only on the simple instruction from God become such a powerful part of your faith that you can’t wait until the next time, day or night, you get to go meditate.