Meditation: Good or Bad?
In our stressed-out, fast-paced society, many people are turning these days to meditation for inner relaxation and rejuvenation. A quick google search of the word meditation shows over 145 million hits for the topic, mostly referring to Eastern types of meditation: Things like Zen meditation, Transcendental meditation, or Yoga and meditation.
Yet, what does the Bible say about meditation? Is it good or bad?
The answer to that depends on what kind of mediation you’re talking about. The Bible does speak about meditation, but the Judeo-Christian concept of meditation is very different from the Eastern way of meditation. According to the Eastern philosophy, meditation is seen as something whereby which you empty your mind. But according to the Judeo- Christian worldview, meditation is where you focus your mind on one particular thing: Scripture. We are not to empty our mind, as Eastern meditation encourages, but rather to fill our mind with God’s thoughts as contained in the Bible.
For example, the author of Psalm 119 says, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). The law mentioned in this verses is a reference to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, which especially give God’s directions and commands. The Psalmist is so happy that God has spoken in a clear and concise way in Scripture. We don’t have to wonder what God thinks. He has spoken in his Word.
Meditation in the Biblical sense means to rehearse and think about God’s Words over and over in your mind. You could liken meditation to marinating meat. This week we were invited to dinner at some friends, and they served an amazing and delicious array of barbequed meat. The meat had been marinated in sauce prior to being cooked, and all the flavor of the sauce had worked itself into the meat, making it so much tastier.
When you marinade something, you put the meat in the sauce and you don’t just dip it in and pull it out, you let it soak in the meat until the flavor of the sauce is worked into the meat. And that’s a bit like what biblical meditation is like. You let your mind sit in God’s word and soak up its truth. Meditating on God’s word is not just reading the Bible. It’s reading it and thinking about it, and pondering it, and sitting on it.
Do you mediate on Scripture in this way? The Bible says, “Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (Psalm 1:1,2)
Maybe you’re thinking, “That sounds nice, but I have a nine-to-five job, and I don’t have time to meditate on Scripture.” Well, what about the 30 minute commute to work you have each day? Or what about the thirty minutes of exercise you do? Why not listen to the Scripture. Get a Bible version downloaded onto your i-pod or i-pad. Find a way to meditate on God’s Word. Ask God to teach you from his Word. He will impress certain thoughts from the Scripture. Those verses that stand out then become what you meditate on. You can then then meditate on those verses as you go about your day: while you brush your teeth, take a shower, mow the lawn, do the dishes, drive your car, or ride the metro. There’s always a way to find the time if it’s important.
Mediation on Scripture has many benefits. As we get filed with God’s truth, our thinking becomes clearer and our heart becomes more peaceful. We are better able to discern what God’s will is—“his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). We can also become more fruitful for God. The Bible promises that a person who meditates on God’s Word will become “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3). If you want that description to apply to you, plan to meditate on God’s Word