PRAYER AND MEDITATION
We often hear the words “prayer” and “meditation” used in a variety of ways. They are both vital parts of the Christian spiritual life and we must be careful not to be confused by the non-Biblical ways they are used. Perhaps we should start by saying what prayer is not: Meditation, contemplation, thinking, imagining, feeling, action or work, communion with nature, ecstatic or transcendental experience, Union with the “ALL”, silence ritual or magic. Prayer is not natural to people, but is given by God as part of our full spiritual life with Him. Prayer is personal in that it is a communication between one person and another Person. Prayer is language – direct, definite and committed. If we read some of the prayers recorded in the Bible e.g. I Kings 8, Col. 1:9-12, Eph. 1:15-29, Phil. 1:9-11 we find that God’s people speak to him in ordinary language about both this space and time existence and about eternity – all part of our spiritual life. God speaks to us through His Word (and His creation). We can speak to Him about his Word and how it applies to our lives. We should be encouraged to pray and have communication with God, convicted of our failure to make prayer central in our lives and resolved to pursue healing, knowledge, restoration and growth in our lives before the living God who saves us.
Meditation has a Biblical and non-Biblical meaning. In Psalms 49, 5, 19, 119, etc. the Hebrew word for meditation means, “to murmur, have a deep tone, sighing or moaning”. We can think of Rom. 8: 22-27, which speaks of the creation “groaning” and the Spirit “groaning” for us. Biblical meditation is not a vague, transcendental experience or state of consciousness. The word appears most times in Psalm 119, which is one of the most highly organized chapters in the Bible. This seems to indicate that meditation is not a disorganized, “going with the flow” kind of thing. Meditation involves our reason and thinking about ordinary reality. Biblical meditation is about God’s character or His actions. Thinking is in a strait line. Meditation is like taking some information about God and holding it in our minds as if over a web or net so the Holy Spirit can show us places where it touches and applies to our lives that we never saw before. Then we can think and pray about what He shows us.
In the Eastern or new Age sense, meditation means to stop thinking and hold the mind completely still, raising ourselves up to a “higher” state of consciousness. This is very difficult to do and it actually does bring us into contact with the supernatural. However, since we are not thinking, we cannot “test the spirits” as John commands us to do in I John 4:1-3. This kind of meditation is therefore dangerous. It is also disobedient because we are setting aside part of the way God made and designed us to relate to Him. God is rational (and more than rational) and He has made us in His Image to be rational. When we come before Him to relate to Him, we must not deny or abandon anything except our sins. God sent Jesus to save us completely – our bodies, our minds, our spirits, our work, and our creative imaginations. We must present all of these parts of ourselves to Him as we grow in our spiritual life.
So, we should meditation about the deep things of the Lord and we should think and pray before and after we meditate. Then we will have a more complete and safe relationship with Him.