Meditation

GETTING THROUGH THE DRY TIMES

A macro shot of a small flower growing out of a crack in dry earth.

Sometimes when I pray, it feels impossible to get a thought out and up to God.

Sometimes when I read my Bible, the words are recognizable, but incoherent.

Sometimes I feel distant from God even when I know it’s impossible for that to be true.

In these times, I usually don’t have an identifiable reason why I feel as I do.

I have spiritually dry days – and so do you.

I have come to believe (at least part of the time) that God sends these days to us. Learning to stay consistent and pursue God in the midst of dryness is one of the ways faith extends its roots.

This still leaves us with the question of what to do during dry seasons!

I found this helpful article by Jason Helopoulos entitled, “When A Christian Feels Dry: A Simple Practice”. And if ever we need simplicity and guidance on something to do – it is when we are feeling dry.

I hope your dry days are few, but when they arrive, it is good to have a plan for how to bring water to our soul.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PAUSING TO REFLECT

I have found that giving time daily for worshipful reflection has been an immense benefit to my life.

At the same time I have noticed that reflection is neither highly valued nor often practiced in our culture.

Tim Challies who is one of the leading Christian bloggers in the world today has written this article entitled, “The Duty of Reflection”.

The article’s title immediately caught my attention – and the article’s content lived up my expectations.

Reflection and Meditation don’t seem like priorities to us. There are multiple reasons for this:

  • They don’t press upon us with urgency
  • We feel more accomplishment when we do something with visible results
  • Most of us have not been instructed in the value and practice of reflection

My hope is that this quick read by Tim Challies will have long lasting value by motivating you to work on reflection as a habit of life and worship. As Tim says in his article:

“How can we praise God if we do not praise him for the things he has done and is doing?”

FOCUS FOR MEDITATION and WORSHIP

In some recent blogs I addressed the subject of Meditation on God’s Word. Today we will look at meditation in prayer and worship.

Biblical meditation is to focus on a particular truth about God or His works and allow our mind to dwell on those things so we become saturated in them. We can also use these points of meditation as thoughts for worship. This is something I do each day. I take up aspects of God’s character and His works (always including gospel truths) and think through them in praise of His greatness in it.

In “A Puritan Theology”, the authors included this list of ideas for meditation from the Puritan, Matthew Henry. I hope Henry’s list helps to stimulate your meditation and worship of God!

Address the Infinitely Great and Glorious Being

With Holy Awe and Reverence

Distinguishing Him from False Gods

Reverently Adore God as Transcendently Bright and Blessed

The Self-Existent, Self-Sufficient, Infinite Spirit

His Existence Indisputable

His Nature beyond our Comprehension

His Perfection Matchless

Infinitely Above Us and All Others

Give God the Praise of His Glory in Heaven

Give Him Glory as our Creator, Protector, Benefactor, and Ruler

Give Honor to the Three Distinct Persons of the Godhead

Acknowledge our Dependence on Him and Obligation to our Creator

Declare God to be our Covenant God Who Owns Us.

Acknowledge the Inestimable Favor of Being Invited to Draw Near to Him

Express our Unworthiness to Draw Near to God

Profess our Desire for Him as our Happiness

Profess our Hope and Trust in His All-Sufficiency

Ask God to Graciously Accept Us and our Poor Prayers

Pray for the Assistance of the Holy Spirit in our Prayers

Make the Glory of God as the Highest Goal of our Prayers

Profess our Reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ Alone

 

HOW TO MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD

Yesterday, I introduced the theme of Meditating on God’s Word and the two objections we have with adopting this as a regular practice. The first objection which I already addressed is that it seems like a time draining practice that won’t accomplish much.

The second objection which we will cover today, is that we are foggy on the specifics of HOW to meditate on God’s Word. Fortunately, for you, I found the following helpful thoughts while reading A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones:

1st  Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you.  You might use Psalm 119:18, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” 

2nd  Read a portion of the Scriptures, don’t read so much that you have no time to meditate.

3rd  Focus on one verse or doctrine, something easy and applicable to your life.  Repeat the verse or doctrine to yourself several times to memorize it.

4th  Analyze it in your mind by its various names, properties, cause and effects, together with illustrations, comparisons, and opposites.  Be careful not to speculate further than what God has spoken.

5th  Preach the truth to your soul to stir up your faith, love, desire, hope, courage, grief, gratitude, and joy in the presence of God.  Examine your life and make detailed application.

6th  Resolve with prayer to grow in grace.

7th  Praise the Lord with thanksgiving.

“To meditate is to pray, read, focus, analyze, preach to yourself, resolve with prayer, and praise God in a manner that revolves around a single truth of Scripture.  By regular times of meditation, you will practice personal devotion to the Lord and experience John 15:5:  “He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit.”

GETTING MORE FROM READING YOUR BIBLE

Young man reading small Bible

One of the the ways God’s Word calls us to use what we find within its covers, is to meditate on it.

“I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes”  Psalm 119:48

But we have a two-fold problem with adopting this practice.

Our first problem is that we don’t VALUE meditating on much of anything (except perhaps the latest smart phone or our fantasy football team). Mediating seems unproductive and we live in the land of accomplishment and getting things done. We feel good when we can act on something, and we measure worth by the length of our check lists.

Compared to action, meditation is just sitting around thinking about something. We don’t think we have time for thinking, and we know we have little patience for it.

Yet, how we think affects how we act and what we value. The simple fact is we are thinking about stuff constantly, but it is rarely planned or structured thinking. Much of our thinking is reactive to what pops in front of our eyes or hops into our mind.

Meditation is to intentionally choose to run our thoughts on a particular path. It is something like a trip to an art museum where we choose to pause at certain paintings and consider what we like or not about the strokes and splashes on that canvas.

To meditate on God’s Word is to pick a statement or concept we just read and pause to settle in and think about what is meant and how it can be applied. Meditation is really a statement of value. It is a declaration that God’s Word is God talking to us, and that what He says is essential for our life.

If you think God is someone worth knowing and if you believe what He says is worth understanding, then meditation is a practice worth our slowing down. Over time it will not only become a beloved item at the top of your to do list, it will immeasurably impact your to do list!

The second problem we have with meditation is not feeling we really know HOW to do it. Tomorrow I will give some practical help for that concern.