What Is Meditation?

What Is Meditation?

The one who meditates on the will and wonders of God is blessed, unlike the one whose inner voice scoffs at God’s Word. A biblical approach to meditation is directly tied to the things revealed to us by a Creator-Redeemer. We will never find Him by looking within ourselves apart from His Word. We can only find Him through what He has made and in what He has said and done for us in Jesus Christ. 

Eastern religions often encourage their practitioners to “empty” themselves through meditation in order to achieve enlightenment or lasting peace and harmony. Such worldviews often emphasize that any attempt to focus on a particular mental object (someone or something) outside ourselves will likely interfere with the desired goal of meditation—an emptiness of mind or an altered state of consciousness. We are to turn within, they tell us, to achieve a sense of inner peace that the world around us constantly denies to us. We are to find enlightenment through the paradox of self-emptying.

On the contrary, a Christian approach to meditation cautions us about turning within ourselves precisely because we know what we will find when we do so—all sorts of sins and self-righteous judgments pronounced upon others (Gen. 6:5Jer. 17:9). Our hearts are dark (Rom. 1:21); our minds are filled with all kinds of lusts, greed, and mental futility (Eph. 4:17–19). Try as we will, we will not be completely emptied of such things until we are glorified. Thankfully, we can confess these things to God and receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Yet a Christian must ultimately strive to think about and meditate upon a reality outside ourselves, namely a Creator-Redeemer who is both personal and distinct from the world He has made and who is revealed to us in the so-called “two books”—the natural order and the Word of God (cf. Ps. 19).

Christian forms of meditation are closely associated with prayer. Prayer is a conversation with another to whom we turn—someone outside ourselves. We pray to God the Father, through the mediation of Jesus Christ in His role as intercessor between God and His people (1 Tim. 2:5), in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:12–17). There is no possibility of prayer if we turn within. Who will answer me? Am I praying to myself? What if I get an answer? That is a sign of much deeper trouble.

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