[I am sorry for neglecting the blog this past week. A flu bug got the better of me, in spite of getting the shot. Hopefully I’m back on track now!]
Thomas Brooks, a Puritan preacher and author of the 1600s, wrote the following about meditation. This is a paraphrase:
A bee cannot gather honey by merely touching the flower.
She must abide for a time on the flower, to draw out the sweet.
A Christian cannot gather heavenly truths through hasty reading.
It is serious meditation that draws out the sweet.
It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most,
who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.
That’s my desire—to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian I can be. My guess is you feel the same.
Evidently, meditation is key. Did you know it’s mentioned twenty times in the Bible?
And what does meditation include? Reflection, pondering, intending the mind, and contemplation.
This is what it might look like:
1) Praying while reading the Bible, asking God to give understanding.
2) Asking God also, How should this verse impact my thinking and my actions?
3) Celebrating his miracles, works, and mighty deeds (Psalm 77:11-14) with words of appreciation.
4) Reviewing his promises (Psalm 119:148).
5) Praising God for his attributes.
6) Contemplating whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute (Philippians 4:8).
Meditation takes effort. To be of any profit, it must also lead to application.
Meditation requires stillness. “Be still and know that I am God” he tells us (Psalm 46:10). To be reflective, we need time to listen, to just wait before God. That’s not going to happen if the email inbox is visible on the laptop nearby or one eye is on the clock.
As always, Jesus is our perfect example. He frequently participated in meditative prayer—pulling away from the crowds, even from the disciples, to a place of solitude and quiet.
Meditation means slowing down the thought processes so new discoveries can emerge. For some, that might mean praying, others may meditate through song, still others by writing. Writing thoughts about God, and especially to God can be very meaningful ways to meditate. Such exercises help us notice and realize truths that would otherwise be left undeveloped and nebulous in our minds.
Meditation ushers us into more intimate communion with God, and a deeper relationship with him. In fact, meditation is bound to produce greater peace, increased passion for God, and heightened joy.
All the more reason to make time for meditation.
Here’s a habit I’m trying to practice: As I go to bed each evening, I meditate on what God has done for me that day, and where I witnessed his glory. The experts say that such reflection provides several benefits:
1) The body begins to relax. (Have trouble falling asleep? Try meditation!)
2) Breathing and heart rate slow down.
3) Even emotions and the flurry of thoughts will settle down.
4) As we put aside the anxieties and frustrations of the day to concentrate on God’s goodness, gratitude, peace and joy flood into our spirits.
5) In the stillness, God makes himself known.
But morning quiet-time meditation and bedtime contemplation aren’t enough. With David I want to extol the Lord at all times and always have his praise on my lips (Psalm 34:1).
What could be sweeter than that?