Should Christians Practice Meditation?
By Fin Sheridan
A friend of mine recently spent some time on a meditation retreat. She took a week off from work and flew to Nepal where she and the other delegates spent time staring at the mountains and practicing mindfulness, yoga and meditation. As we chatted about her experiences, she explained how the group regularly would spend time meditating; seeking to empty their minds and detach themselves from desires and circumstances in order to feel a sense of peace and fulfilment.
This approach to meditation is found in Buddhism, New Age practices and other eastern spiritualities. It’s about “emptying” oneself in order to find truth by creating space and quiet. Is there anything wrong with the pursuit of peace? Absolutely not! However, Christian meditation takes a totally different approach in the journey towards shalom.
There are twelve explicit mentions of the word ‘meditate’ within the book of Psalms, with many more references about how to do it. These references give us guidance and show us that Christians not only should meditate but also how they should practice it. Let’s take a look at some verses and see.
Christian meditation is about attachment, not detachment.
‘When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night,’ says Psalm 63:6. Rather than focusing our minds on nothing and no-one, we focus on something and someone; God himself. Christian meditation is about filling our minds with thoughts of God, the gospel and what he has doing and is doing.
The writer of Psalm 27 says that his desire is to meditate on the beauty of the Lord. Instead of pursuit of a pious emptiness, the psalmist floods his mind. He dives deep into true pleasure; the beauty of God, rejecting asceticism for adoration.
The other focus on meditation in Psalms is God’s word. Whilst non-Christian meditation seeks to quiet all voices, Christian meditation is deeply connected to hearing from God, through Scripture. “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” David cries in Psalm 119. It’s through the stillness of meditation and the focus on the words of God that we can hear his voice, speaking to us. The good news for Christians is that we don’t need to fly to the mountains of Nepal to find peace; we simply need to walk to the chair, open our Bibles and read.