Glassy stares, monotonous chants, and the fragrance of burning incense-these are images that often come to mind when we hear the word meditation. Afterall, eastern mysticism is more often associated with meditation than Christianity. Such negative associations have discouraged many from pursuing something the Bible exhorts us to do.
If you’d like to teach the person you’re discipling how to meditate on Scripture, or if you’d like to look into it for yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Benefits. Teach the scriptural benefits of meditation on God’s Word: success and prosperity (Josh. 1:8), fruitfulness (Ps. 1:1-3), joy (Ps. 63:1-6), victory over sin (Ps. 119:11), and wisdom and insight (Ps. 119:98-99).
Uniqueness. Point out the fundamental difference between biblical meditation and the meditation associated with Eastern mysticism. The latter entails emptying the mind. Biblical meditation involves filling the mind with scriptures that point to God. Biblical meditation is the complete opposite of other forms of meditation.
Logistics. Encourage them to find a set time to meditate-during morning quiet times, perhaps, or when drifting off to sleep at night. It’s easiest to develop a habit when something is done at a similar time each day. Make sure they start small-just a minute or two in the beginning, then a gradual increase.
Preparation. Teach them that meditation begins with asking God to guard their hearts and minds from any images that are not from Him. Confession and repentance of known sins should follow. To rein in wandering minds, they should ask God to help them focus on Him and His Word. This is another way to be active, rather than passive in meditation.
Example. Make quiet reflection a part of the time you spend with the person you’re discipling. This will encourage the disciple who is hesitant to try meditation on his or her own.
Method. Some people find it helpful to write a verse in their own words. Others use Scripture songs as springboards to meditation. In her book From the Heart of a Woman (NavPress, out of print), Carole Mayhall suggests using the letters AEIOU for systematic meditation. For example, if you were meditating on the verse “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1), you would:
Ask questions. (What is the function of a shepherd? In what way is the Lord my shepherd?)
Emphasize words. (The Lord is my shepherd. Not a Lord, but the Lord-the only true God.)
Illustrate. (Draw a picture of the verse or link it with a story you’ve heard.)
Other scriptures. (What else does the Bible say about this?)
Use. (How can I apply this verse to my life?)