Joshua 1:8 | Genesis 24:63 | Psalms 19:14, 27:4, 63:6, 119:23, 145:5

You are not going to need a gong for this.

Think deeply and carefully about this definition: the word meditate means to think deeply and carefully about something. (See what we did there?)

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Joshua 1:8 NLT

Joshua son of Nun told the Israelites to think deeply and carefully about the instructions Moses left for them. They needed to internalize them to be sure they could obey them. “Day and night” meant while they worked, while they rested. 

That’s meditation. No specific leg, hand, or finger positions are required. No musical instruments. No ceremony, no ritual, no pageantry. Just deep and careful thinking.

Why do we always picture meditation as someone sitting Criss-Cross Applesauce, eyes closed tightly, pinching imaginary flower stems with both hands? Good question.

The answer is: it’s a very recognizable Hindu or Buddhist posture. When you see it in a movie or episode, you know–they’re meditating. Like when you see a Christian church pastor on the screen, they are wearing a priest’s collar. (Strictly speaking, it’s a ‘clerical collar’–that white tab where a bow tie would be.) That’s a very recognizable uniform. You see the collar, you know–that’s the main church leader. 

For an audience unfamiliar with spirituality or religion, the details are not important. But you know that many Christian pastors do not wear clerical collars (or any sort of uniform), and now you know that meditation is not a practice exclusive to any one religion.

Now that you know what meditation is, you may wonder: How is meditation different from prayer? As Malachi and Quinn explained, meditation is thoughtful and silent. Prayer is talking to God. You could think of prayer as talking, and  meditation as listening–active, intentional listening.

The Bible has a number of references to meditation. For instance, when Isaac met his wife Rebekah for the first time, guess what he was doing…

One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming.

Genesis 24:63 NLT

Judging by the fact that Isaac was meditating while walking, we can safely surmise that his eyes were open, and his legs were not crossed. He was thinking (deeply and carefully) on his feet!

Should you try meditation? No! You should not try it, you should do it. You don’t need to make a big production of it, though; just work it into your prayer time. When you pray, take some time to listen to God (or listen for God?) and to think deeply and carefully about scriptures.

Use some of these scriptures from the Psalms to give you a clearer picture of what meditation might mean.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 NLT

The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

Psalm 27:4 NLT

I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.

Psalm 63:6 NLT

Even princes sit and speak against me, but I will meditate on your decrees.

Psalm 119:23 NLT

I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.

Psalm 145:5 NLT

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Do you think of meditation as a mystical practice? If so, does it have to be? 
  • Is there anything wrong with meditation for Christians? What if a Christian is getting mystical in practicing it?
  • Will meditating bring you closer to God? Does it depend on what you meditate? Does God want you to meditate on his Word?
  • Is meditation a necessary spiritual discipline? If so, does it have to be formalized to be done correctly?
  • What does Isaac’s meditation in Genesis 24:63 teach us about how to do it?

Challenge: Are You Currently Taking Any Meditations?

As we said before… Should you try meditation? No! You should not try it, you should do it. 

Here is how:

  • You don’t need to make a big production of it; just work it into your prayer time.
  • When you pray, take some time to listen to God (or listen for God) and to think deeply and carefully about scriptures.
  • Choose a few scriptures that stand out to you (as you come across them) and meditate on those.
    1. Write the scripture down.
    2. Repeat it a few times slowly.
    3. Ask the Holy Spirit to breathe meaning into them for you.
    4. Take time to think about it (as long as you can stand).
  • Do this as often as you pray.