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The Psalms speak often of Christian meditation: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (ESV). “My mouth will speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.” Psalm 49:3 (NASB) “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord.” Psalm 104:34 (NASB) Yet most of the teaching out there on meditation comes from secular or other non-Christian sources.
Sadly, many Christians have lost the practice of meditation, assuming that it is a non-Christian practice. Meditation is often thought of as emptying your mind, sitting funny, and chanting om. But the word meditate actually means “to think deeply or carefully about something.”
With Christian meditation we are not emptying our minds to focus on nothing. We are focusing on the truths of scripture, the presence of God, and hearing his voice clearly. That may include emptying our minds of the grocery list, emails that need responding to, and the other distracting things our minds obsess over, but it is an emptying with intent to fill.
Christian meditation may be newly popular, but it is not a new practice. Monastic traditions began to engage meditation as a silent form of prayer during the Middle Ages. And the Desert Fathers even earlier practiced mediation as part of a contemplative lifestyle. Meditation is different than prayer, though it may include it.
With prayer we are engaging in conversation, speaking to God and listening for what he has to say to us. With meditation we are focusing on God’s truths and letting our minds be saturated with them. We are thinking deeply and carefully about scripture and inviting God to tune the patterns of our thinking to align with his truth.
Some simple ways to practice Christian meditation are to find a comfortable, quiet place, pick a short verse, and spend time dwelling on that verse. Repeating it to yourself, reading it over and over, writing it out, inviting Holy Spirit to saturate you with the truth and renew your mind. Or you may turn on a worship song and listen to it over and over, focusing on the power of the words, noticing the areas in your heart that need to hear that truth the most.
However you meditate, the goal is to replace anxious feelings and unhealthy thought patterns with patterns full of life, truth, and peace. Christian meditation is really about aligning our default state of heart and mind with the default state of God’s heart and mind.
One of my new favorite ways to practice Christian meditation is with the free Soultime app. It has tons of guided meditations that bring in elements of inner healing prayer, as well as tracks with just music, nature sounds, and verses to focus on. It also has a daily checkin where you can record how you are feeling each day and get suggestions on meditations for the day. And you can also set reminders for daily meditation.
When you first download the app it has you complete a checkin that gives you feedback showing how you’re doing emotionally and spiritually in a variety of areas such as how connected you feel to yourself, God, and others, the types of connection you feel, and the areas you feel disconnection.
With a subscription to the premium version of the app you get even more feedback from your checkin as well as meditation course designed just for you, and new meditations, music, and videos each month.
A really brilliant feature of the app is the option for churches to connect with their congregations. When you sign up it gives you the option to list your church, if they sign up, they can then access anonymized data showing general trends.
It’s totally private, no one will know you use the app or see your individual responses, yet it gives pastors a whole new level of insight into the emotional and spiritual needs of their congregation.