Mention the word meditation and you will get differing understandings of what you are talking about. To say it in a conversation with a millennial may get you on the topic of eastern religious practices. To talk of it in a conversation with a yogi or health coach you might find discussions of inner peace and unity. To mention it in Christian circles could get a variety of responses from a questioning raised eyebrow to a affirming nod or “amen”.
As mentioned in my previous post about mindfulness, our culture has a heightened value on wellness that gives comprehensive and integrated attention to more than just physical well being. The understanding that our bodies are only a portion of our total health actually fits well with Scripture. Consider 3 John 1:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for example. We also know that a well-bodied person may be spiritually sick just as much as a person whose physical body is failing can be spiritually, mentally, and emotionally well.
Meditation is a part of holistic health and should be something every believer gives attention to. But just like mindfulness we must be clear as to what we are talking about.
Meditation is thinking. When a person meditates they are focusing their thoughts on a particular subject. Meditation is not the suppression of rational thought, it is the practice of focused thought. It is the drawing of the mind to a specific target. As believers that target is truth, ultimately the truth found in Scripture. The value of mediation is clear throughout Scripture. Psalm 119 gives many examples of the importance of this. Here are a few passages that are worth reading.
Psalm 119:15-16 points out that meditation on God’s precepts bring a person to consider God’s way and delight in them.
Psalm 119:23-24 tells how meditation on the decrees of God in the midst of conflict brings counsel and delight.
Psalm 119:99 says that meditation leads to great insight.
Psalm 119:148-149 shows how meditation on the promises of God give helpful purpose to sleepless nights leading to reminders of God’s love are protection.
We see in these verses the value of meditation. The focused fixing of your thoughts on truth is something Christians need to engage daily. Meditation can be practiced by taking a passage of Scripture and focusing your thinking on it through prayerful rehearsing of the words. It is the mental holding of truth while pushing out warring thoughts. It can be the singular focus on one word, the calling to mind rich promises, or the intentional focus on the manifold character of God. Meditation is focused thinking.
There are other places in the Bible that talk about mediation. But Psalm 1:1-3 is one of those places that highlights the connection between meditation and health.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The words there explain that daily meditation on Scripture is what brings blessing and produces a life that is strong and stable like a tree planted by streams of water. This passage alone ought to encourage us to make meditation a regular practice. As we meditate on God’s promises, there is no doubt that our inner spirit is helped but we can also see the value that meditations brings to our whole person. The focused attention on truth brings about well-being that encompasses all of who we are.