As a community of faith we have a vision of learning how to love. An essential part of the journey includes quieting our anxious hearts before God and learning how to listen for the voice of God. As I have shared several times, we are learning how to listen for the voice of God calling us his beloved (from Henri Nouwen). Once we grow accustomed to hearing God’s affirming words and infused grace, we begin to call forth the belovedness in other people. So, contemplative spirituality is an important key. Christian meditation is closely associated to contemplative spirituality. This makes many conservative Christians nervous because it’s thought to engage the mindless repetition of words (or one word) that Jesus spoke against in Matthew 6:7. I see Christian meditation launching point into the presence of God. The Lord’s prayer happens to be divided up into separate phases that are perfect to meditate on. Also, consider these passages from the book of Psalms that speak to the need/benefits of Christian meditation: Psalm 1:2; 4:4; 27:4; 39:3; 48:9; 63:6; 77:6, 12; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 52, 78, 97, 99, 117, 148; 143:5; 145:5. (Click here to go to a Bible Gateway list.)
Recently I went back and re-read one of the first books that came my way as a newbie Christ-follower in 1974. The book has become a Christian classic — Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Packer’s theology is reformed (i.e., conservative) and yet he talks easily about the need for Christian meditation. Take a look at the following excerpts:
How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God?
The rule for doing this is demanding, but simple. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.
Meditation is a lost art today, a Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is the activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on ones mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God, and oneself; it is indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us — ‘comfort’ us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word — as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ. These were the points stressed by Spurgeon in the passage which we quoted in the beginning, and they are true. And it is as we enter more and more deeply into this experience of being humbled and exalted that our knowledge of God increases, and with it our peace, our strength, and our joy. God help us, them to put our knowledge about God to this use, that we all may in truth ‘know the Lord.’ (pgs 18-19).
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