How to meditate and talk to God is not so explicitly addressed. Certainly there’s much mention of prayer, repentance, confession, and the like. But meditation itself is only mentioned in passing, and the original Hebrew words used can also be translated as “to utter, groan, or ponder”, or “to rehearse in one’s mind, or contemplate”.
We don’t often associate meditation with Christianity. Rather, we often think it’s almost exclusively the purview of Eastern religions. This isn’t the case, however. The Bible specifically instructs readers to meditate — meditate and meditation are mentioned some twenty times, such as in Joshua 1:8: “God says to meditate on His word day and night so we will obey it.”
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So where do meditative practices in Christianity actually come from, if not the Holy Book?
A form of Christian meditation first appears in the 4th century, known as the lectio divina, or “sacred reading”. It was popular in monastic churches during the period as a way of meditating and talking to God; of gaining deeper insight into scripture and its teachings. It has four stages;
- Reading (lectio), wherein you find a passage and read it deliberately
- Discursive meditation (meditatio), wherein you ponder the text you read
- Effective prayer (oratio), wherein you talk to God about the reading, asking for Him to reveal its truth
- And finally contemplation (contemplatio), simply resting in the Lord’s presence.
The lectio divina has enjoyed differing levels of popularity over the years. The 1970s saw a particular resurgence as the “Jesus prayer”, with the practice being broken down into simple-to-follow steps rather than a broad set of concepts. Today, with the New Age rise of Transcendental Meditation, Christian Meditation has seen a renewed life as a distinctly Christian alternative.
Christian Meditation and Transcendental Meditation are very different, but also share key similarities. The key difference, unsurprisingly, is the underlying religion. While many New Age practitioners act as though TM is secular, it’s officially recognized as Hindu religion. Its practices, teachings, and philosophies are derived from the Hindu religion, and its Yogis are ranked according to the Hindu religion.
Where they’re similar is in achieving the same level of inner focus and clarity of mind. This focus is essential in how to meditate and talk to God, and is often mentioned in the Bible. We must focus on the word of God in order to truly understand it, and meditation is the perfect way of achieving the necessary clarity of thought to receive God’s word. Those 20 mentions of meditation I mentioned above are always coupled with the benefits and rewards of dedicating such focus to the word of God repeatedly in our lives.
Jesus Prayer: How to Meditate and Talk to God
So meditation is a part of the Bible, and part of how God instructs his followers to converse with him. How do we actually do it? You can follow the lectio divina steps mentioned above, but for a simpler — albeit no less spiritual — session, you can just follow these simple steps.
- Seek a quiet place.
- Sit in a comfortable, upright position. Remain as still as possible.
- Think on God’s Word — any phrase, or command, or even just a singular word like “Jesus”. Reflect on it with faith and love.
- Return to your word or phrase whenever other thoughts or images pass your mind. Let them pass you.
Jesus Meditation Techniques
Use recorded sounds of nature, or guided meditation, to more easily achieve states of focus on the Word of God. Feel free to speak the Word of God aloud, or even sing it as you meditate, to draw focus. Christian Meditation does not need to be performed in silence, or with chants.
While it’s uncommon to associate Christianity with Meditation, it’s actually an important part of how God intended us to communicate with Him and understand His word. When we know how to meditate and talk to God, we achieve a greater understanding of not only the teachings of the scripture, but ourselves and the world around us.