What Is Biblical Meditation?

In the minds of many Christians, meditation is associated with eastern religions

“Since the concept of meditation has been appropriated by other religions, we’ve lost an important and meaningful way of interacting with Scripture. The Bible mentions 23 occurrences of some translation of meditate: 19 of them appear in the Psalms, and of the 23, 20 refer specifically to meditating on the Lord in some way.”

 

What is meditation?

The concept has been corrupted in modern thought. In the minds of many Christians, meditation is associated with eastern religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism – belief systems that don’t acknowledge God as Father or Jesus as Savior and Lord. This association leads many to believe that meditation in any form opens the mind to evil spirits or untrue teaching.

But that robs us of an important way of interacting with Scripture.

When I began staying home with my kids, I was overwhelmed. While I suspected such an endeavor would be hard, I wasn’t prepared for the ways it challenged me. My daily time in the Bible kept me rooted in Christ; my weekly Bible study kept me digging into Scripture; but the thing that reassured me that I was in Jesus’ hands was meditation on his holy Word.

What the Bible Says About Meditation

Since the concept of meditation has been appropriated by other religions, we’ve lost an important and meaningful way of interacting with Scripture. The Bible mentions 23 occurrences of some translation of meditate: 19 of them appear in the Psalms, and of the 23, 20 refer specifically to meditating on the Lord in some way. We are told to meditate on his actions, law, or testimonies – all of which are found within his Word.

There are several words in the Bible that translate as a form of meditate, depending on their context, including speak, utter, study, imagine, and muse. (There is even one instance of it being translated as sing, my personal favorite.) The Bible uses meditation as deep contemplation, a turning over and around in the mind to gain greater understanding and be changed by God’s truth.

True, meditation is a tool of learning that can be abused. Yet, instead of avoiding it, we should use it with care, biblical understanding, and respect.

What Biblical Meditation Isn’t

Biblical meditation is not:

  • Sitting with an empty mind
  • Mindlessly repeating a single word or phrase to gain some sort of altered state
  • Burning candles, or sitting calmly on a rug, or listening to sonorous music
  • Practicing yoga

Biblical meditation isn’t even primarily for relaxation, although you may find it calming and comforting. It’s not about controlling your breathing, although there may be times when deep breaths are helpful. It’s never mindless; instead meditation means that your mind is focused on God and his Word.

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