The Value of Spiritual Meditation
“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves” (Thomas Carlyle).
Meditation is vital to spiritual development. Paul told Timothy, "Meditate on these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." Good thinking is the springboard to right actions. Seldom does a man who does shallow thinking make wise choices.
Meditation is an act reserved for the human family. It involves memory, knowledge, experience, and resolution. It is at once a joy and a difficulty. Mental discipline is required to think about right things; it is easy to reflect on past pleasant experiences.
In classical Greek, the word meant “getting up a speech,” or premeditating something. This seems to be the concept in Luke 21:14 when Jesus said, “Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer.” The apostles did not have to “get up a speech” with which to answer their adversaries; Jesus provided it for them (see Jno. 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). He then reassures them with the promise of what he calls “a mouth of wisdom.” We have the same assurance today although the information is not provided miraculously.
Certain things are necessary to meditation:
- The determination to do so. Meditation is an act of the will; you have to decide to do it.
- Something to entertain. Information to consider, reflect upon. Meditation is like a cow who chews her cud. You have to have something to chew on, something to think over.
- A quiet place. It is foolish to try to think when there are disturbances everywhere. Jesus often separated himself from the masses for time alone.
- Concentration. Mental disturbances are as much a deterrent to meditation as are physical noises. You have to zero in on what you want to consider; and that takes discipline.
- Relaxation. Duress, pressure impedes good deliberation. It is difficult to sort things out properly when under the pressure of the moment.
Bible meditation is not transcendental meditation. This technique calls for a deep mental and physical relaxation--a sort of hypnotic condition, usually brought on by saying a mantra over and over--which results in a semi-conscious state and is supposed to allow one to ascertain deep truths about himself by getting past sensible reasoning. The Bible nowhere recommends this kind of meditation. It is purely subjective, a totally inward sort of thinking. In Bible meditation, the thinking is outward, toward God, not inward toward self. It is a Being to a being process, not a being to a being one. Paul said, "Meditate on these things, a clear indication that the object is God and what He said, not self.
In the 119th Psalm, David cites some things meditation did for him:
- Verse 15--It caused him to direct his own way according to the ways of God.
- Verse 23--It caused him not to be disturbed by criticism, even that from high places.
- Verse 48--It caused him to approve, even long for, the commandments of God.
- Verse 59– It caused him to choose better alternatives, to turn right.
- Verse 78– It caused him to put away bitterness, to have a dogged determination to do right no matter the consequences.
- Verse 97– It caused him to make God's word his constant companion.
Why not take a little time this coming year for Bible meditation? It will cause you to be better, to think higher thoughts, to make better plans, and, more important, it will help you to follow a higher walk of life.