Meditation for Christians

Chapter Eleven

This chapter is designed to help Christians to reflect on whether meditation is consistent with their faith. As a Christian, you may have shared the common human experience of unplanned meditation, both in outdoor settings and during holy communion. You may also want to reflect on Bible passages that show the importance of solitude and of experiencing the spirit within, or the Holy Spirit.

Experiences of Meditation

Each of us has undoubtedly experienced meditation in our life. Sometimes it happens spontaneously, in places of great natural beauty, especially where there is silence. As a Christian, I have felt the state of meditation during communion and in the profound silence that follows it. At that time, the warmth of the love of Christ has filled me; and I have had a sense that the silence filled the entire worship hall, shared by many if not all. We were remembering the love of the lamb for us and the washing clean of our sins. As a result, I think we became centered on Christ, who is present in us as the Holy Spirit or Paraclete. We may also become aware that the blood and body of Christ were consumed by us and would soon become a part of the tissues of our own body. So we became committed to Christ as our savior.

One way to begin meditation is to remind yourself of the spirit of communion by reading John 6:53-58:

Jesus replied to them:
In all truth I tell you,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man
and drink his blood,
you have no life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise that person up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in that person.
As the living Father sent me
and I draw life from my Father,
so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.
This is the bread which has come down from heaven,
it is not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.

Since a purpose of meditation is to listen to God and make the inside clean, it carries out the injunction of Mark: 21-23:

It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean. For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.

The great men of the Bible often had extensive exposure to silence before God spoke to them. It may well be that they experienced meditation during these silences. For example, Abraham was a shepard and was often alone in the fields with his sheep. Moses, who was raised in Pharaoh's court, did not receive his commission from God until after he, too, became a shepard. The Gospels record that, immediately after he was baptized, Jesus went out into the dessert, where he undoubtedly experienced extensive silence and confronted the devil. It is possible to decide that Christ's time in the dessert helped to purify him after his baptism, in which God reaffirmed his nature as his only son. Here is the relevant passage from Mark 1: 9-13:

It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. And at once, as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you." And at once the Spirit drove him into the desert and he remained there for forty days, and was put to the test by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels looked after him.

Meditation also is a method of slowing the mind down and clarifying it. It is my experience that simplifying my mind has led me to love God more. I also have found that examining my mind in meditation helps me to practice the commandment to love my neighbor. The two great commandments are set forth in Matthew 22:37-39:

Jesus said to him, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. . . ."

Meditation also leads to an experience of the Holy Spirit, whose presence is necessary for me even to hope to achieve these promises. John 14:12, 15-17, 24-26:

In all truth I tell you,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
and will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.

If you love me you will keep my commandments.
I shall ask the Father,
and he will give you another Paraclete [counsellor]
to be with you for ever,
the Spirit of the truth
whom the world can never accept
since it neither sees him nor knows him;
but you know him,
because he is with you, he is in you.

And the word that you hear is not my own;
It is the word of the Father who sent me.
I have said these things to you
while still with you;
but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.

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