Many Christians shy away from meditation because of the negative connotation meditation has gotten. They wonder If I meditate am I sinning? Measuring your spiritual practices against the Word of God is always a good idea. By doing so you will see that if God thinks something is a good idea, he will endorse it. Like loving your neighbor as yourself, turning the other cheek, being kind–and meditating on God’s Word.
There are many things that God calls sin: adultery, lying, pride, murder, just to name a few. But throughout Scripture, meditation is not forbidden or even discouraged. In fact, it is strongly encouraged. God will never turn away one of his children who is wholeheartedly seeking after him. Spending time daily in prayer and pondering God’s Word will help you draw closer to him, not draw you away into sin. It wasn’t those who earnestly sought out Jesus with no ulterior motives that Jesus had issues with when he walked on this earth. It was those who relished the Law more than they worshiped God that he had a problem with.
What Exactly is Christian Meditation?
When you consider that the word most often translated “meditate” throughout the Old Testament could also be translated as “muse or ponder,” that might give you a little more of an idea about what it means to meditate on the Word of God. And it will help you answer the question, “If I meditate am I sinning?”
The psalms are the most prolific purveyors of the concept of meditation. In fact, better than 87% of the references to the word “meditate” in the English Standard Version are found in the psalms.
The very first psalm mentions meditation: “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2, ESV).
The whole psalm talks about what the righteous person is like: they don’t get advice from the wicked, they don’t act like sinners act, they don’t hang out with people who disrespect God. Instead, they find delight in God’s Word, meditating on it day and night.
What Does Christian Meditation Do For Me?
Besides what Psalm 1 mentions about meditating on God’s Word being part of what helps you be a righteous person, firmly planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3), Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Now, we know that prosperity, in God’s economy, is not always financial. So what does spiritual prosperity look like? Let’s look at what Scripture has to say about it.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This verse is part of a longer teaching of Jesus about his being the good shepherd and laying his life down for his sheep. He knows them, he loves them, he takes care of them. His very presence is the abundance Jesus is talking about.
How Can Christian Meditation Help Me Experience God’s Presence?
Think again about the word “ponder” or “muse.” Say you’re thinking about getting a special gift for someone you love. You want to show them how much you love them. What kind of gift would you give them? The most popular thing that everyone is buying these days? The item that’s on sale at the store? Something you like?
No! You would think about what you know about that person. What are some things they have said to you that you’ve taken note of? What activities do they like to engage in? What’s their favorite color? In order to know these things, you have to spend time with them. That’s what Christian meditation is: spending time with God and pondering the things that he has said in his Word.
Give it a try. Ponder the words recorded in 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.”
Let those words fill your heart and your mind. Repeat them or listen to them being read from an audio Bible. Let God speak to your heart about what those words mean for you. See how much he loves you. Remember Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for you. Realize just how much he did so that you could spend eternity with him.
That’s the essence of Christian meditation. Drawing near to God, letting a single verse or a passage of Scripture enter your heart so that you begin to grasp how much God loves you and increase your desire to please him in all that you do.
How Else Can Christian Meditation Help Me?
Studies have shown that taking time to be still, quiet and contemplative can reduce anxiety as much as popular anxiety medications. When you find yourself starting to become anxious in a situation, you can bring to mind a Scripture that you have been pondering and let it fill you with peace as you take deep, slow breaths.
Slowing your breathing and letting your heart rate settle provide physiological benefits so that you feel a general sense of peace in your body. A lessening of anxiety will help you to enjoy being with others and engaging in activities that you would have avoided before. So the next time someone asks you, “If I meditate am I sinning?” you can assure them that as they strengthen their practice of biblical meditation, they will find joy, peace, freedom, and an abundance of life that they have not experienced before.