The Bible encourages us to meditate on who and what God is, on His Word, and on all the good things that come from Him. Christian meditation is always about His glory, not about self or our needs. At all costs, we must avoid the dangers of bringing worldly practices into what is an act of worship.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
What wise words these are! On even the greyest of days, or in the bleakest of circumstances, there are things that stand out in beautiful, inspiriting colour to cheer us. They may be tiny happenings or simple memories, but we have treasured moments we can bring out when we’re struggling to brighten the moment. It isn’t thanksgiving, although giving thanks for each of these has a powerful impact on our mood, both emotionally and spiritually. Paul is talking here about meditating on good things – those things that surround us and speak of God. Christian meditation is a powerful and positive way in which we access the things of the Spirit. It anchors us in the supernatural perspective of God so we see Him in our daily lives. Most of all, it lifts us beyond the natural reality of our circumstances to the place where God and His purposes take precedence.
What is Christian meditation?
We need to be very clear what ‘meditation’ actually means for Christians. Sadly, the world has taken what is actually an act of worship and perverted it to allow non-Christian practices to infiltrate the Church under the guise of being biblical. Many of the ‘techniques’ encouraged by our leaders have veered off into the rather shaky area of ‘visioning’ and pagan-spiritual practices. Christian meditation, pure and simple, is to fill our thoughts with the things of God and with who and what God is. We do not meditate to enter into a ‘higher state of consciousness’ but rather to be conscious of Him who is higher than any other. Non-godly meditation is something that is dangerously deceptive. It is so easily peddled as ‘getting closer to God’ or ‘seeing God’ or even ‘losing ourselves in worship’ when it’s really nothing of the kind.
Paul provides a good yardstick by which to judge our Christian meditation. While the things he mentions may not seem ‘God-focused’ they all relate only to God. This is because He is the source of every good thing. When we meditate, it should always be using the Word of God as our anchor. Whatever we meditate on or think about must be rooted in His Word – the revelation of His nature, character, and will. The moment we step out of this and make our times of meditation about us, we tremble on the edge of a dangerous spiritual precipice. It’s not about making us feel good. This may well be the outworking of it, but it’s about yielding self so that we can see God and know His purposes better. The fundamental principle behind Christian meditation is to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on God.
God’s purpose in Christian meditation.
This is no different to any other purpose He has in our lives. All things must put Him at the centre of our focus. Christian meditation is inextricably tied to fact that our fundamental purpose is to live lives that bring glory to God. We were created for His glory, and every Christian principle, instruction, admonition, and revelation is geared towards us fulfilling this purpose. Like everything else, meditation is an act of worship. We willingly lay down self and all our own needs and desires and fix our eyes on the will of God. In doing this, we acknowledge Him as Lord – the I AM, the almighty God, the most high – and magnify Him in our lives. We bring glory to God by living in the supernatural resurrection life of Christ rather than the natural life of self. Fixing our thoughts on God enables us to do so.
It’s very easy, when surrounded by the issues, obstacles, trials, and sufferings we face, and the growing depravity of a world that has turned away from God, to live in the flesh. We are constantly pulled downward by the weight of responsibility and things we confront in our daily lives. The so-called reality that is this world is loud and clamorous, distracting us from the things of God. Today’s verse is our reminder that there are things that are of God. We’re not drowned in a quagmire of worldly things. When we make a habit of meditating on the things he lists, we find our vision clearing and our spirits rising to our supernatural position in Christ. Christian meditation is God’s way to seat us with Him in heavenly places. It’s His way to position us so that His glory can be revealed in and through our lives.
Preparing for Christian meditation.
There is a proliferation of teaching out there on how to prepare for Christian meditation, yet the Bible says only one thing that covers this. It simply says ‘be still and know that I am God,’ which immediately negates many of the ‘techniques’ we’re encouraged to pursue. There is no record anywhere in the Bible of anyone using breathing techniques, ‘mind-emptying’ techniques, or ‘visioning’ the presence of Christ. There is terrible danger in ‘emptying’ the mind. If there’s a vacuum, the devil will rush to fill it. God never asks us to do this. We are to take every thought captive to the obedience of the mind of Christ. This simply means rejecting thoughts that do not line up with God’s Word. It doesn’t mean we empty our mind so Jesus can take it over. He wants to renew our minds, not occupy them.
Our only preparation, then, for Christian meditation is to be still. Stop our busyness, cease our complaining, and fix our eyes on God – what He has said, done, and will say or do. While it’s good to set aside time for this and to separate ourselves when and where we can, it’s not always possible or even essential. It’s completely possible to meditate on all the things Paul lists during the course of a normal day. When something happens to disturb us, we can think of the good things of God. If we encounter opposition, we can think of the truth that He is our protector and defender. When we grieve, we can remind ourselves that He turns our mourning into dancing. No elaborate rituals are needed for any of these. The moment we make the ‘preparation’ as important as the meditation, we’re on dangerous ground.
Christian meditation is life in Christ.
The only extraordinary thing about Christian meditation is the one we mediate on. It’s not something we do so much as what we are. God intends that we live in Jesus and He lives in us. To live in Him means to be full of Him and to live where He lives. The old saying, ‘home is where the heart is,’ is particularly true in this instance. If our heart is truly with Christ, that’s home. That’s where we live – in Him. It’s an absolute spiritual fact that when we constantly meditate on God – on who He is, what He has done, and what He is able to do – we live supernatural lives in natural bodies. We live in the power of God rather than the power of self. Then we see things as Jesus sees them and do what He has done.
We become what is in our heart. When He is in us and we are in Him, He becomes the ‘new heart’ God promised us. We should develop the habit of constant Christian meditation, rather than make it something ritualistic and pseudo-religious. It’s a way of life, a way of worship, that keeps us in His presence and focused on His will and purposes. We learn from Jesus in this, who did and said only what the Father commanded. He meditated constantly on the nature and will of God. Yes, there were times He drew aside and spent time alone with Him. But His meditation was equally practical and moment-by-moment. Read the raising of Lazarus for a good example. He simply thanked God that He had heard Him. His focus was on the Father the whole way, He meditated on the purposes of God, and the supernatural overcame the natural.
Christian meditation is always for God’s glory.
Our purpose in Christian meditation always starts and ends with God’s glory. We enter in to give Him glory. Through our meditation on the Word and the things Paul includes in today’s verse, we see and experience His glory. Finally, the outworking is that we reveal His glory to others. It’s not about us or self or our needs or anything else. God’s glory is all that matters. The truth is that, as we ‘be still’ – set aside self and all our distractions – God honours that. He reveals Himself to us as we yield to Him. If we hold back, we limit what we see and know of the glory of God. This limitation then impacts our ability to live the supernatural lives in Christ that God intends for us. While we meditate to seek His glory, that will always spill out in equal measure through our lives.
This is the principle of ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,’ one foundational to our faith. God already knows our needs, though He does encourage us to bring them before Him. Genuine, Word-based Christian meditation, shifts our focus from the needs to the I AM. He who is willing and able to provide for those needs. When we give Him glory through meditating on who and what He is, on the promises in His Word, and on the good things that abound around us, we see our needs in a different context. We place them into the ‘all things are possible’ of God. As we give Him glory, He responds with increased faith, peace, and joy. Answers to prayers flow easily when we simply focus on the glory of God. Meeting our needs and keeping His promises manifests His glory through us – His purpose.
The supernatural power in Christian meditation.
We must warn against the dangers of unscriptural meditation practices. But the supernatural power of God is released into our lives when our Christian meditation is acceptable to Him. What’s important is that it’s His power. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. We have no say in how He exercises it. His first priority will be to transform us from our natural, fleshly selves to God-focused vessels which manifest His glory. That we may ‘feel good’ along the way is a given. The joy of the Lord is a wonderful thing, and a free and gracious gift. But to enjoy the things of the Lord is to let go of the things of self and the world.
God wants His supernatural power to come to earth for His glory to be seen. He desires to manifest His glory and power through these weak human vessels. Christian meditation is a simple act of worship, integrated into every part of our lives. When we lift Him up, He lifts us up with Him to the place He has prepared for us in His purposes.
Gracious Father, forgive us. We may have been misled or deceived and gone about our Christian meditation with one foot in the world. Help us to be still, to set aside self, and to fix our eyes on Your glory. Remind us to look to You, to what and who You are, so that we may see Your glory manifest in and through our lives to reveal You to the world. Thank You for the grace that lifts us from the natural into the supernatural. Thank You that we are not bound to the limitations of this world but can live in the fullness of life in Jesus.