I was chatting with a friend recently and apparently threw her for a loop when I brought up Christian meditation. “I thought meditation was that new age hippie stuff that The Beatles stole from India and made it all trendy,” she said. “What do you mean Christian mediation?”
After we had a good chuckle, I told her she was right — meditation has become super trendy since the 1960s and ’70s, and more and more people are catching on, trying it as a way to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Even corporate America has hopped on that train.
So what is the difference between “traditional” mediation and Christian meditation? And how and why is it important?
The difference is in the intention — it is all about intention. If we are talking about meditation in the sense that most of us have come to think about it, one’s ultimate goal is to clear the mind and reach an emotionally calm state. It can help reduce stress, lessen anxiety and quiet that sometimes annoying voice in the back of our head- all good things. It can be a spiritual experience for you, but it doesn’t have to be.
Christian meditation has a similar goal, but with the intention of fostering a deeper relationship with God. When we take time to be alone with God, we get to know Him better. It is not necessarily about learning anything new, although that may happen. It is about coming to know Christ, who He is in our lives, and how we are to pursue our lives through Him.
A few months ago, I went through the Foundations class at Amplify and learned from Pastor Chris that we need to intentionally encounter God daily by setting aside quiet time to BE WITH HIM. The point is to spend time with Him in thought and prayer. This, my friends, often involves some meditation.
Pastor Chris told us meditation involves constantly thinking on God’s word in order to discover how we can apply its truth in our own lives. Maybe you are wrestling with some scripture. Maybe you are trying to apply what you learned in service at your job or your marriage and you need some guidance. Or perhaps you are still trying to figure out who God is and how He is supposed to be a part of your life. Christian meditation is an act of coming to God intentionally to spend time with Him and learn what He is trying to tell us. He is always talking to us. We just have to listen.
So what is the difference between prayer and meditation? If I’m praying, isn’t that the same thing? These two actions are not entirely the same, but they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there is bound to be a lot of crossover if you are really working through something that is on your heart.
“That sounds a lot like what I already do in my quiet time,” said my friend. BINGO! If you already set aside a specific time and space to connect with God to ask questions, pray, etc., you’re already engaging in this way.
When I sit in my quiet time, I always start with a prayer. The Lord knows I am seeking Him. It helps me to set my intention, eliminate distraction, focus in and listen to what God is trying to tell me about what I am asking Him. Am I good at it? No. But the more I practice, the better I get. And let me tell you, He ALWAYS has an answer.
Alex is a member of the Writing Team.