How the Practitioner Uses Meditation in Ministry
The mere mention of the word meditation strikes all sorts of pictures and meanings in the minds of people. Probably, the more common are that of yoga or the practice of an Eastern religion where people sit in strange positions seeking to “center” themselves in reach of transcendental state of elevated consciousness. Unfortunately, it is these associations with the concept of meditation that has driven many Christians to condemn it altogether. However, God instructs believers to practice the art of meditation; promising prosperity and success to those who do it effectively.
Written by Michael Mooney, Ministry Practitioner
National Association of Christian Ministers
In pursuit of obedience to God and the divine favor which follows, this article will:
- Define meditation
- Place it within the context of religious practice
- Spotlight it in Scripture
- Prescribe it for Christian living
Definition: Meditation is a systematic approach of religious contemplation.
Meditation as a Religious Practice
Meditation exists as a practice within most religious traditions, as a means to develop deeper spiritual understanding and commitment.
- The Christian approach is directed toward reflection upon Biblical passages, topics, or themes with the central focus upon God. The goal is to arouse and inspire the human will and emotions toward obedience to God (Meditation, 2003).
- Contrastingly, Buddhist and Hindu practices utilize combinations of rituals, movements, breathing patterns and postures aimed at emptying the mind of thoughts and emotions in reach of enlightenment (Meditation, 2003).
- Comparatively, Christian approaches share with Buddhist/Hindu practices the repetition of words, sacred text, etc.
Meditation in the Bible
There are a minimum of 14 uses of the word meditate in the Bible. Arguably there are even more in the form of variations such as meditating, thoughts of the heart, etc. Yet, for sake of this focus two are examined below.
- “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” (Jos 1:8 ESV).
- “Blessed is the man who walks…in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night… In all that he does, he prospers” (Psa 1:1-3 ESV).
In both Joshua 1 and Psalms 1, the word “meditate” is defined by Strong (H1897) as an act of:
- Muttering, or uttering
The Collins English dictionary defines murmur as “A continuous low indistinct sound, as of distant voices. An indistinct utterance. To utter something.” In other words, it is reciting, chanting, and vocal use of repetition.
- God instructed meditation saying, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth…” (Jos 1:8 ESV).
Also, Strong (H1897) defines an act of meditation as imagining. Within the context of using imagination/visualization for meditation, The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health (2000) reports:
- The basic premise behind visualization and imagery is that one’s thoughts become reality. For example, if an individual thinks anxious thoughts, then he or she will become tense. The principle of visualization and imagery is that a person can use his or her imagination to be persuaded to feel a certain way or do anything that is physically possible to do. There are three basic types of visualization: programmed, receptive, and guided visualization.
Prescription for Christian Living
God instructs believers to meditate on His word. It is a purposeful act defined as positive murmuring and muttering repetitiously while using the imagination to visualize obedience to God. The promise to those who do this effectively is that of blessings, prosperity, and success.
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 yourway prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Jos 1:8 ESV).
Anxiety Reduction Techniques. (2008). In L. J. Fundukian & J. Wilson (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 78-82). Detroit: Gale.
Meditation. (2003). In The Macmillan Encyclopedia.
Murmur. (2000). In Collins english dictionary.
Strong’s Complete Greek and Hebrew Lexicon. The Bible Collection Deluxe. CD-Rom. Value
Soft. Copyright 2002.