By Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser
Meditation is a word that can cause some sense of discomfort when it first is spoken, but understood in its right biblical meaning it can be a great blessing to the Christian and must be a central part of the life of the believer. In this short article I want to think for a moment as to how and why meditation should be something you look to incorporate into your spiritual life this coming year.
It is likely that this concept first brings to mind either a medieval monk or a new age spiritualist spending hours upon hours on their knees or stomach muttering barely audible sounds reminiscent of a whale in labor. However, this is not a biblical understanding of meditation. Biblical meditation is an act of resting in the truth of God’s Word and focusing upon a text or concept that allows you to have a deeper and profounder understanding of the majesty of God, through the inward work of the Holy Spirt. But this is not all it is. Meditation can also be an occasional thing where the Christian is drawn to think upon the providential hand of God because of a momentary happening in your life. A good example of both of these kinds of mediation can be seen from the life of our Savior Himself. Jesus Christ was always seeking time and opportunity to be alone and renewed through meditation. He was in need of the refreshing time of one-to-one fellowship with His Father and valued each opportunity He received to do so. Christ also saw each occasion of His days on the earth as a time to be amazed by the work of His Father. Likewise, many of the Psalms themselves are the fruit of David (and others) meditations to the Lord God in their times of need. When David was on the run from Saul you see quite clearly the manner by which in his fear and disquietude he is comforted by his time meditating on the blessed sovereignty and mercy of God Almighty.
The Spiritual benefit of meditation should be fairly obvious. While there is practically a cottage industry now in evangelical publishing on the need to clear out space in your busy life for God, it is something that must be done. It is one of the ways that you testify of your need of the grace of God by a daily remembrance of His attributes. Thinking upon the Holiness of God, as an example, reminds you of the wholly otherness of the Creator of the Heavens and Earth, which draws you to a greater appreciation for His mercy to sinners. Spending time meditating on the Omniscience of God is a great way to be comforted by the welcome truth of Romans 8:28. This is of course just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to seeing the blessing that God has provided in this particular sanctifying mercy.
Thinking practically now, two habits you can sensibly use to make this a more regular part of your spiritual life have already been given to you by your gracious heavenly Father. The first is the Christian Sabbath. God has in the moral law mercifully granted you one day to put away the fleshly things of this world (even those things that are not sinful in themselves) and spend a day growing in grace. It is one of the stranger aspects of our modern world that so many in our churches will blessedly and sacredly spend their Lord’s Day mornings in worship, being built up in their faith, rejoicing in the things of God and His Love, yet only to allow their whole day to be spiritually ruined by the winning or losing of their football team. The second is making meditation a central part of your daily and regular private worship. The “prayer closet” is, unfortunately, a lost art. However, like the Sabbath Day it is a spiritual blessing that is worth recovering, primarily because it is such a necessity for our well-being. Setting aside time to meditate on the things of God, within the parameters of Holy Scripture, is a means of sanctification that you cannot live without. The lack of meditating on God and His Word is part and parcel of the spiritual weakness that so illustrates current times.
In closing I want to provide some resources to help you get started and that certainly do a better job in explaining the importance of this discipline for the Christian life:
- Joel Beeke on Puritan Meditation
- Audio Sermon by Maurice Roberts on Meditation (mp3)
- Audio Sermon by Cornelis Pronk on Meditation (mp3)
- Several Puritan Works for e-book
- Meditation on God by Charles Spurgeon
- Solitude Improved By Divine Meditation by Nathanael Ranew
- Question #121 of the Westminster Larger Catechism