Anytime one mentions the word “meditation”, the first thing that comes to mind is someone sitting in a lotus position chanting some mantra.
Add the word “Christian” to it and wild visions of heresy and New Age dominate the conversation.
The Far East and its pantheon religions are renown for meditation. In fact, the Yoga “craze” has become mainstream in America. Yoga and meditation classes are in practically every city. Schools and even the military are using meditation for various reasons. Now, many churches are offering meditation and Yoga as ways of relaxing and “getting in tune with God”.
How should Christians approach meditation?
What is of paramount importance is to define meditation. The idea of meditating, or contemplating, is not anything new. Scripture tells us to meditate on God’s word and to meditate on his teachings. Meditation is simply emptying oneself to hear God speak to them in a very personal way. However, what I am seeing taking place among many Christians is a dangerous misunderstanding of what it really means to meditate.
In eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, meditation often requires sitting in specific positions. These positions are very defined and specific. In the end, they are designed to allow a person to “bring form to one’s thoughts and emotion.” The goal of such meditation is to attain the “highest level of consciousness”. Many Christians are adopting such techniques in order to “draw closer to God”. The belief is that if one sits in a certain position and empties the mind, then the Spirit will enter into that person’s thoughts and reveal mysteries of the kingdom. While there is no time to get into the specifics in this article, there is a potential for great danger in adopting such a viewpoint.
I would like to suggest another way.
There is a great amount of truth in sitting still and listening for the Holy Spirit.. We are to meditate on God’s message, whether it is through scripture or a revelation from the Spirit. A busy and cluttered life makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hear from God. However, hearing from God does not require straight spines, parallel feet or bent knees. It simply requires a mind that is willing to hear and a heart that is ready act.
Speaking strictly from my own experiences, there are times in which I need to simply be quiet and listen to God speak. That means disconnecting from my surroundings. In those times, I hear from the Spirit is various ways. The most prominent, however, are those discussions in which he reveals, “rebukes” and encourages. These are precious times I would not trade for anything.
I treasure those “discussions” with the Spirit while sitting at a mountain stream in Sikkum, in the mountains of Bhutan, and the valleys of Myanmar. I also enjoy the day-to-day talks with God in my living room. None of these, however, required sitting in a certain position and repeating a mantra. They just require a quiet spirit willing to listen.
What is so ironic about all of this is that eventually one can begin hearing God’s voice in the middle of chaos and disorder. There are many times God will speak to a person in a motorized ricksha weaving through a maze of New Delhi traffic.
The point in all of this is simple; the Spirit will speak to us whenever and wherever he choses if we have a willing spirit.
So put up the meditation pillows and yoga suits. You do not need to practice breathing techniques and stretches. God is not some being that can only be approached when your thumb and fingertips touch. He is willing to speak and listen at any given moment.