Christian meditation is designed to strip us down to the absolute essentials. It is designed to clear away all of the mental static that prevents us from being alone with our thoughts, and from being alone with God. However, it is one thing to understand that these are essential, beneficial activities. It is another thing entirely to actually take the steps needed to reach them.
Simply put, we are not particularly comfortable with the things a contemplative practice is capable of bringing us, but requires us to reflect deeply. We do not like to be alone with our thoughts (how many of us fall asleep with the TV on? To music?). While we love God, and while we certainly desire to be closer to Him, there is still something about the notion of being alone with Him completely exposed that terrifies most people. This spiritual discipline offers a lot, but it would seem as though taking that first step, for many of us, is far easier said than done.
However, if the idea of sitting quietly appeals to you, don’t give up. As you will discover, there are actually a great many activities you can try, in order to make the most of your time.
Utilizing Scripture/Sacred Word
For Christ to abide with us, we must first abide with Christ. We are rendered useless without His living and guiding spirit within us. We can abide by sitting at the Lord's feet, and by waiting, or meditating, in His presence. This may not sound like a form of meditation, but it is. Particularly when you are willing to delve a little deeper.
Finding a place to sit quietly before the Lord each day is a good way to start. Ideally, this will be a place absolutely free of distractions. Building the resolve to sit still, abiding, waiting, and accepting can be challenging. Consider using scripture, a holy name, or sacred word mantra. This can help to anchor your resolve. For some people, simply saying “Amen”, or “Jesus” can be very effective. As time goes on, you are going to find yourself capable of holding your reserve for longer and longer stretches of time. You will be able to abide with Christ, and He will be able to abide with you. Then your time with God will be how your soul becomes refreshed.
Guided Christian Meditations
Another approach you can consider are guided Christian meditations. If you are just starting out, you will want to strongly consider this exercise. You can generally find these type of guided resources on CDs or tapes. You can also start with our guided 7 day Class here. There are other online sources you can consider, as well. A good guide can provide you with structure, stability. For first-time meditators, these elements are absolutely crucial which is why we posted our class for free.
Beginning meditation is a bit like learning to walk. You may not remember your first steps, but it’s more likely than not that the initial few were a little challenging.
Guided programs often combine relaxation techniques with scriptural narratives, but this may not always be the case. Others use Biblical stories. Yet others still offer visualizations. For example, one program may want you to feel as though you are going on a long, leisurely walk while feeling the light of God all around you. We personally like the ones that combine relaxation techniques, scripture, visualizations, and an intelligent combination of tones and music. These techniques have a way of helping anyone, regardless of experience, reach a meditative state. A state necessary to truly embrace the word of God, Jesus. Scripture recitations allows us to fully absorb a direct, intimate moment with God. So it's important to have scripture play a key role. To help you begin your own spiritual practice I've outlined 3 techniques and activities you can perform.
Meditate With God’s Word
Have you ever heard of the concept of contemplative prayer developed by Christian monks centuries ago? This discipline couldn’t be more straightforward, although it is considerably more demanding of your time and energy, than some of the activities we have mentioned thus far.
The approach of the monks was simple: They would choose a piece of scripture, and they would reflect on that piece of scripture for the entire day. They would apply the particulars of the passage to their daily lives, looking at the multitude of ways in which that single thought from the Bible is connected to their lives. This can involve looking to the past, thinking about the present, and peering ahead to the future. Moving in and out of such a deep understanding of ourselves can bring us to an extraordinary mental state with God. Thus deep spiritual wisdom unfolds.
Soaking In The Presence Of God
To practice this type of Christian meditation, you’re going to want to get back to nature. You are going to want to seek out and embrace examples of the extraordinary, ongoing gifts from God. You can find examples of these almost anywhere. The important thing is that you believe the place in question is an astonishing example of God’s beauty and greatness.
Once you have found this place, you will simply engage in the practice of sitting and “soaking up” God's love for you, and His love for you is evidenced by the creation around you. Soak up the attributes of God as though you were a sponge.
To put it another way, you are walking as Adam and Eve once did. In the same sense that they walked with God in the Garden of Eden, taking in everything He wanted them to experience and feel, they felt a connection to their Lord that we suspect is beyond our reach. The truth of the matter is that it is not beyond our reach. This is one of the more profound meditation techniques for getting to that point in which we are truly one with God, both physically and spiritually. When we can walk with God in this fashion, we are capable of walking fully aware of His presence all day.
As you can imagine, this particular technique is a little more on the challenging side of things. You may want to work with some of the earlier techniques we have covered, before giving this one a try. It requires a somewhat more intimate knowledge of your ability to engage things like stillness, thoughtful breathing, while in nature.
Believe it or not, groups for Christians are all over. Furthermore, if you are looking for a way to truly enjoy a multifaceted relationship with God and others, Christian a meditation group might give you the best foundation possible in which to make all of this happen.
The World Community of Christian Meditation is a good example of what we are talking about. This is a group that can provide you with not only a community of like-minded individuals, but also, the resources necessary to take your goals with meditation far beyond everything offered in this article.
Veteran meditators can help you in ways that simply doing it alone could never hope to provide. God- specific meditation in a group can have the same benefits on an individual that they might receive by going to church. In the same sense that expressing both a singular and unified love for Christ can help to make us better Christians, better people, and eventually, better meditators. So group meditation may help you to achieve your goal.
The lessons one can learn in group meditation can easily be carried over into a solo, personalized practice. Once you start with a group you may branch off and explore God on your own.
Another benefit to group sessions is that sometimes they also include a post discussion time. This isn’t always the case, and it is not what one would consider a “required” element to a contemplative activity. However, those who are eager to learn how to deepen their communion to God may not want to pass up such an opportunity.
Is meditating from the Christian perspective right for you? That is certainly going to depend on your interest, your patience, and whether or not you are willing to abide the Lord, quietly. These are sometimes difficult things to put into practice. Meditation can help us to get to these core values more easily, but making that first step, as we mentioned before, is something that can prove to be somewhat difficult.
If you are someone who is already struggling with the concept of giving up control, then you are going to find Christian meditation to be particularly challenging.
At the same time, it is an effort that must be taken seriously. In this day and age, maintaining a positive, open relationship with God can prove to be more difficult than ever, but of the highest value.
We certainly don’t want to give up, but there are moments of supreme darkness nonetheless that many experience in life. In these moments, we can ask for God to give us the strength to continue. This is where a contemplative practice can prove to be extremely useful. In fact, you could even make the case that this is one of the many gifts God has given us.
Understanding the potential of the practices mentioned here, and embracing that potential, can in fact be strong indicators that you can benefit from the techniques and activities. In giving up the notion that you know everything, particularly about a subject in which you have no prior experience, you are proving something important to yourself.
You are proving that you can strip away the thoughts and noises that create greater and greater distances between you and God. If you can take this first step, then there is no question that you are going to be capable of taking even greater steps.
However, it must be mentioned again that if you are in fact a beginner, it is vital to begin your experience in the simplest fashion possible. This means working with the first two techniques that were covered in this article.
While you are certainly free to try the more challenging activities, we feel that this can prove to be disastrous. Simple activities can lead to simple achievements, which in turn can build your confidence. Practicing patience and self-discipline in this case can actually help to strengthen the tools you will later need to get the most out of meditation. Here's the link to get started with your 7 Day Guided Christian Meditation Class.