"DISCIPLINES FOR THE DISCIPLE" The Discipline Of Meditation INTRODUCTION 1. In this series we have defined spiritual disciplines as... a. Spiritual exercises that bring one closer to God, to become more godly in character and behavior b. Spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, fasting, singing, giving, etc. 2. Our previous study examined the discipline of prayer... a. Noting especially the value of secret, simple, and steadfast prayer b. In which we praise God, make supplication for our needs, intercede for others 3. Closely tied to prayer is the disciple of meditation... a. A spiritual exercise practiced by men of God - Gen 24:63; Ps 1:1-2 b. A spiritual duty given to those who are Christians - Php 4:8; 1 Ti 4:15 4. But some questions may come to mind... a. What exactly is meditation? b. Why should we take time to meditate? c. How should we meditate? [This study will attempt to provide answers to these questions...] I. MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE A. WHAT IS NOT MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE... 1. That practiced by many Eastern religions a. Like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Transcendental Meditation b. Where the object is to experience truth, peace, or being, usually inexpressible 2. That practiced by Christian mystics a. Such as Quakers, and others often found among Catholics and Protestants b. Who meditate to experience God, or to receive some revelation from God 3. Both Eastern and Christian mystical meditation usually seek to empty the mind so as to find or receive truth within (i.e., a subjective form of meditation) B. WHAT IS MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE... 1. To contemplate on truth or reality already revealed (i.e., an objective form of meditation) 2. For example, the man "after God's own heart" is one who meditates on: a. The Lord Himself - Ps 63:6 b. His wonderful Works - Ps 77:12 c. His revealed Word - Ps 119:15,23,48,97-99,148 3. In the words of Paul, we are to meditate on "things" - Php 4:8 a. Things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report b. Things that are of any virtue, and are praiseworthy [There is a very real difference between Biblical meditation and that commonly practiced by many religions: Christian meditation dwells on that already revealed in creation or inspired revelation, whereas other forms of meditation seek some new truth or experience to be revealed. Understanding the difference, why is Biblical meditation important...?] II. WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD MEDITATE A. A SOURCE OF JOY AND STRENGTH... 1. As seen from such passages like Ps 1:1-3; Isa 40:28-31 2. This alone should motivate us to meditate more often B. AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR TRANSFORMATION... 1. The goal of the Christian is to become more like Christ - cf. Ro 8:29 2. This requires a "transformation" - Ro 12:1-2 3. But notice that this is possible only by "renewing the mind" - Ro 12:2 4. This "renewing" is possible only when we "set our minds" on proper things a. On things above b. Not on things on the earth - Col 3:1-2 5. Only then, when our minds are "set on things above", will we be successful in completing the "transformation" which includes "putting off the old man" and "putting on the new man"
- cf. Col 3:1-2 with Col 3:5-14 C. MANY FALL BECAUSE THEY MEDITATE ON THE WRONG THINGS... 1. They "mind the things of the flesh", which leads to "death" and "enmity with God" - cf. Ro 8:5-8 2. You cannot be a spiritual person if you "dwell" on carnalthings a. "Recent studies conducted by a Stanford University research team have revealed that 'what we watch' does have an effect on our imaginations, our learning patterns, and our behaviors." - Denis Waitley, Seeds Of Greatness, p. 47-48 b. " First we are exposed to new behaviors and characters. Next, we learn or acquire these new behaviors. The last and most crucial step is that we adopt these behaviors as our own." - ibid. c. "One of the most critical aspects of human development that we need to understand is the influence of 'repeated viewing' and 'repeated verbalizing' in shaping our future." - ibid. d. The information goes in, 'harmlessly, almost unnoticed,' on a daily basis, but we don't react to it until later, when we aren't able to realize the basis for our reactions." - ibid. e. "In other words, our value system is being formed without any conscious awareness on our part of what is happening!" - ibid. f. "You are what you watch and think." - ibid., p. 45 g. "If a sixty second commercial, by repeated viewing, can sell us a product, then isn't it possible for a sixty minute soap opera or 'smut-com', by repeated viewing, to sell us a lifestyle?" - ibid., p. 47 3. Fill your mind with positive and spiritual thoughts if you really want to: a. "renew the mind" b. "be transformed" [If Christians are to succeed, they must set their minds (meditate) on the things of the Spirit, on things above, where Christ is! Only then will they with God's help put off the old man and put on the new man. Finally, a few thoughts on...] III. HOW TO MEDITATE A. FIND A QUIET TIME AND PLACE... 1. For Isaac, it was in the field at evening - Gen 24:63 2. For David, it was in bed during the night watches - Ps 4:4; 63:6;119:148 -- A time and place free from distraction B. CONTEMPLATE SOMETHING OF VALUE... 1. David focused his meditation on three things: a. The Lord Himself - Ps 63:6 b. His wonderful Works - Ps 77:12 c. His revealed Word - Ps 119:15,23,48,97-99,148 2. Paul mentioned things that possess virtue and are praiseworthy - Php 4:8 a. Whatever is noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report b. Which could include devotional writings by uninspired authors -- A subject or object worthy of mindful contemplation C. LET THE BIBLE BE YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS... 1. Read it contemplatively every day - Ps 1:2; 119:15 2. Read it with a prayer in your heart - cf. Ps 119:18 3. As you read, occasionally read it aloud to yourself a. The Hebrew word in Ps 1:2 for meditate means "to mutter" b. Reading slowly and audibly helps to focus one's mind on the words 4. As you read, you might ask yourself the following questions: a. Is there some truth I should know from this verse? b. How does this passage affect a previously held conviction? c. Is there something I should stop doing in light of this verse? d. Is there a practice I should change? e. Is there a habit I ought to begin? 5. You might end with a prayer such as David's - cf. Ps 119:10 -- "Hold the Word of God in your heart until it has affected every phase of your life...this is meditation." CONCLUSION 1. In Ps 19:14, we find David praying: "Let the words of mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, "O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." 2. By heeding Paul's command ("meditate on these things" - Php 4:8), we can ensure that our meditations will be acceptable in the sight of our Lord! Together with frequent prayer, the practice of meditation will go a long way toward exercising one's self unto godliness...!