Many Christians worry about the act of meditation, which is valid. With all of the Hollywood dramatizations of Eastern meditation and how it’s represented again and again in the media, it’s no wonder that so many people think to themselves, “Is meditation a sin?” Well, we did some digging into what meditation is and why it might be a helpful tool for Christians to use in their walk with God.
Meditation is the act of focusing on and contemplating something specific in order to know it better. When you meditate on something, you are learning about it more intimately and tuning your heart and mind to that subject. So when meditation correctly focuses on, God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Scripture, the gospel, it paves the way for individuals to know these things better and tune their hearts and minds into the Word of God and his presence.
What Does Meditation Mean to Christians?
God tells us, especially through his Word, what he does and does not consider a sin, So when you ask yourself, “Is meditation a sin?” go to the Bible, read through the Scriptures there, and see what God has to say about meditation and getting to know him better through it.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and right.” Meditation therefore, for Christians specifically, helps you bring your focus solely onto God. Not getting distracted by the worries and noise of the world around you, not thinking too hard about the past or the future, but bringing your mind to the Lord, here, in the present.
When we put our focus on God, when we take the time to study his Word and really think about it, when we contemplate it, we are meditating according to how God intended. We are renewing our minds and lightening the load on our hearts by bringing everything before our Father and letting him have all of us. All of our attention, all of our heart, all of our wants and fears and distresses.
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” When we meditate on God’s Word, when we bring our focus on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that lives in us, we get to know God better. Spending time with God, where he gets you all to himself, no distractions or outside obligations, opens up opportunity for utter transformation, guided and directed by our Savior and King.
When we are with our Savior we want to go with confidence, knowing that when he searches our hearts, all he will find is total abandonment to him. When he sees our thoughts, we want him to see that they are focused on him and guided by his Spirit. This cannot be achieved simply by reading the Bible and then going on with our lives. It requires being intentional and contemplative, taking the time to be truly in the Word, with God, learning to know him better and giving him even more room to move in your life.
When, Where, and How Meditation is Seen in the Bible
It is incredibly important to check what you’ve heard about God and what he does and doesn’t approve of against the most reliable source: the Bible. This is why, in diving into the question “Is meditation a sin?” we went through and searched for places in the Bible where it talks about meditation.
Meditation is mentioned many times in the Bible. One of the first people shown meditating is Isaac, son of Abraham, in Genesis 24:63 which says, “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.” The psalms contain the most uses of the word “meditate” or “meditation.” Psalm 1:1-2 starts out the whole collection with, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night,” where the Hebrew word for meditate, hagah, means to mutter, or to speak, or even to plot and devise, showing a true evaluating and discerning of the Word.
It comes again in Psalm 49:3, “My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding,” where the Hebrew word for meditation, hagut, refers to utterance and musing. And Psalm 77:12 says, “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds,” in which the Hebrew word for meditate, siakh, means to muse, but also to sing, or to complain, to ponder or to speak, to put forth or to commune.
The New Testament may not use the word “mediation” as much as the Old Testament does, but it does hold to the true spirit of the Christian idea of mediation. Philippians 4:8 exemplifies this: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” where the Greek word for “think”—logízomai—can mean to regard, or to think, or to consider.
Meditation is so much more than how many people perceive it in the world today. It grows and deepens our relationship with our Father as we get to know his heart better and open our heart and mind to him. When we focus on God, and meditate on his Word, we leave no room to be filled by the things of this world.
“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”Psalms 73:28 (ESV)
How Meditation Can Draw You Closer to God
When people ask themselves “Is meditation a sin?” they are so often thinking of meditation as something that requires “emptying your mind” and chanting certain phrases repetitively, or drawing on some foreign force to help you achieve your own goals. However, Christian mediation is not that. James 4:7-8 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Now listen to a sample of a guided meditation from Abide based on James 4:7. This short segment will give you an idea of what meditating on God’s Word is like.
Christian meditation can help draw you closer to God by giving you a safe space to submit yourself to him. You don’t need to empty your mind, you need to open your mind and your heart to God, and ready them to hear and accept his Word. This will focus your mind on Christ, and purify your heart as you give up any sins or burdens and release your worries by laying them at his feet.
Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Christian meditation is an opportunity to call upon the Lord and welcome him into the space around us as we talk to him and mull over his words and contemplate them.
When we commit ourselves to the discernment and true understanding of Scriptures and God’s will for us through meditation, we draw closer to him. The more we invest into any relationship, the stronger and deeper it grows. When we meditate on God’s Word and invite him through prayer to be there with us as we do so, we invest in our relationship with him, and turn from any unrighteousness. Every day we have a new chance to begin anew in God and through Christ Jesus.
In meditation centered on Jesus, prayer can be raw and honest, hearts can be ready to receive God’s word, minds can be focused solely on God, praise can come in abundance, and the Lord’s presence can be known and welcomed. His presence will grow ever stronger in our hearts and ever present in our minds as we are guided by him through the ups and downs of life. So, if you find yourself wondering, “Is meditation a sin?” read God’s Word, check what you believe against Scripture, and make sure your definition of meditation is rooted in Christ, not what the world has taken and twisted meditation into.
Ready to start on your own journey of biblical meditation? Download the Abide app and receive 25% off our premium subscription with this link. A premium subscription will give you access to more than 1500 full-length guided meditations like the one you sampled above, 350+ Bible-based sleep stories, daily devotionals and more.