Meditation gets a bad rap. Many Christians are scared of it, afraid that somehow it’s not a biblical concept. But when you consider that the words translated as “meditate” in the Old Testament are most often the Hebrew words siakh and hagah, which both have the idea of “to muse,” the mystique of meditation can be taken away. Many people ask the question: How do I get started with Christian meditation?
How to Meditate as a Christian
King David and the other authors of the Psalms understood that having God’s precepts down deep in our hearts is the only way to draw nearer to God. They would take a piece of God’s Word and chew on it like a cow chewing its cud. Maybe not a pretty picture, but the idea is that you ruminate. You consider. You ponder. You get every ounce of nourishment out of God’s Word that you can. And in the process, you get to know your Creator more deeply.
There’s no secret sauce or super spiritual formula to Christian meditation. The key is having an open heart and the space for God to speak to you through His Word. There is no set amount of time. There is no ideal location. There is not a certain time of day that works better. God is always available, so whatever setting provides you with the least distractions will work.
Maybe you’re a morning person, so waking early and pulling out your Bible is easy for you. Meditation might look like taking a verse that you heard in a sermon on Sunday and mulling it over in your mind. It’s not taking notes, studying the original language, reading commentaries. It’s looking at the verse, perhaps memorizing it, and letting God speak to you about whatever He wants to.
If you have a few moments of quiet in the afternoon, meditation might look like sitting with your eyes closed and your body relaxed and repeating a verse or a portion of a verse that you’re already familiar with, and again, just letting God meet with you there.
Or perhaps your best time to be quiet and contemplative is at night, right before you go to bed. You set aside all your concerns and to-do’s and just focus on a passage of Scripture, Bible on your lap, eyes closed, no distractions.
Whatever time of day, whatever location works best for you, take advantage of it and meet with God alone.
Christian Meditation for Beginners
Let’s look at some ways to get started. If you’re brand new to the idea of biblical meditation, here are some first steps you might take.
- Find a quiet location away from any distractions. The fewer distractions there are, the less you likely you are to be pulled into something rather than just listening to God. Where’s a place you can go to find peace? Maybe you take a walk or find a room in your house where you can be alone. The goal is quiet and solitude.
- Grab your Bible or a meditation app like Abide (you can find it on the Apple App Store or Google Play). On Abide you can choose the daily meditation in lengths of 2, 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Don’t overthink it; just start playing the guided meditation and follow the prompts. If you’re using only your Bible, turn to a verse or passage that you’ve heard before. Maybe John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Or 1 John 1:5: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
- Take your time. Meditation is by nature slow-paced. Pondering God’s Word, listening to what your heavenly Father wants to say to you, cannot be rushed. Practice taking deep, slow breaths. You will find that this calms your body, slows your heart rate, and helps you be more focused on what God wants to do on the inside. If you find tension creeping in, focus on that point in your body, and breathe into it, asking God to release it and keep you focused on Him.
- Be encouraged by however long you’re able to spend, be it 2 minutes or 30. God is waiting to meet with you. He does not condemn you because you could only find a few minutes to be utterly focused on Him. He rejoices that you are His child and delights to be with you.
Biblical meditation does not have to be a scary, uneasy, ethereal thing. It’s communing with your heavenly Father, pondering His Word, and letting Him speak to your heart. Just like savoring an exquisite meal and not rushing on to the next thing you have to do, meditation allows you to savor the richness of God’s Word and build an appetite for spending more and more focused time with God.
Here’s a snippet of a meditation from Abide based on Psalm 119:105.