Editor’s Note: Recently, our Study Together groups worked through Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline.” So many helpful conversations ensued that we thought we’d create a blog series on the topic and post articles the first week of each month. Enjoy!
I’m an expert at meditating, and I bet you are too.
Give me a fear, a woe, a problem, a worry, and my innate meditater will happily work overtime, trekking down path after (mostly dark) path in search of a hope or solution. Like Dr. Suess’s Sam I Am, I can meditate in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, here and there, EVERYWHERE!
It’s not the meditating that’s the problem, it’s the content.
God specifically tells us not to meditate on our troubles (Matthew 6:25) but to purposefully ponder his truth instead. We see this command in both the Old and New Testaments:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
Thinking deeply, or meditating, on God is a spiritual discipline that produces joy, peace, love, and other lovely fruits of the Spirit. It leads us out of the dark, stuffy cage of self and into the fresh, green fields of the Shepherd. But since it doesn’t come naturally, how do we do it? Let me suggest a simple way to get started. We’ll call it Read, Pray, and Obey.
- Read closely. In the morning, read a passage of Scripture and find a particular verse or theme that stands out to you. Read it a number of times, taking time to think about the words and phrases. Talk about it, even out loud, with the Lord while you study it. Lord, that is so true about you. What does this mean? Why did you use that word? How can I live out this truth? Jot down the verse or theme on your phone or a notecard and carry it with you throughout the day. Prop it on your sink or your dashboard, and review it whenever you get a chance.
- Pray unceasingly. This command in 1 Thessalonians 5.17 doesn’t require a convent where we can pray and chant all day. It means we live in the presence of God, knowing heaven’s doors have been thrown open to us through the gospel. We can talk to him all the time, sending up prayers to our loving Father. Pray about the morning’s verse or theme throughout the day, asking God to give you insight and application, thanking him, worshipping him, interacting with his word. This not only glorifies God but injects joy and faith into our daily routines.
- Obey practically. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, says that “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.” Obedience is the natural outworking of meditation, and physical actions seal our mental reflections. Meditating on God’s generosity towards us is a wonderful choice, but sharing hard-earned money with a needy person will add significant depth to your understanding of that generosity. Taking action, whether worship, service, gratitude, or trust, will stamp truth onto your soul.
Are you tired of what your own thought patterns have to offer? God is eager to saturate us with himself. So be kind to your mind today. Fill it with the beautiful truths of God, and watch the fruits of his Spirit flourish in your life.