By Caleb Bobrycki
Content coming into the brain with no digestion creates an airhead; sadly, our schools today are full of content, yet lacking depth. Other than living in a broken system that teaches anti-God content, something that undercuts true learning is lack of meditation, or “brain digestion”. Some voices are yet helpful in rediscovering a solid intellectual identity for the regular Christian. Dr. Donald Whitney, professor of Biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has helped recover many old disciplines for the laymen in his wonderful book Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life. Whitney is especially helpful in reminding readers of Jonathan Edwards’ masterful practice of meditation, encouraging them to press on in the practice. There are many in our church culture who would fit the title of “airhead” before they could be described as “sage”. Why? I contend that we are ill-equipped preachers, evangelists, and lay-Christians for lack of chewing and digesting divine revelation. Further, this leads to a lack of personable, prayerful, and imaginative engagement with the Scriptures. After briefly commenting on what meditation actually is, I hope to write a series of articles following to help others understand how to be more heartfelt with the text, and also to shed light on how I come away with the theological conclusions I do from movies.
What is Meditation?
Before defining what meditation actually looks like, we first must acknowledge that it is practiced and commanded in the Scriptures. My personal favorite is Psalm 1, verses 2 and 3, which say that the blessed man is he who meditates on God’s Word like a tree that drinks water. What imagery! Yet, there is more; as precious as that verse is, the Bible almost exhausts the concept of meditation. There are numerous other instances in the Bible that command or describe meditation, such as:
4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
- Deuteronomy 6:4-6
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.
- Joshua 1:8
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
- Ezra 7:10
12 Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation
- Psalm 48:12-13
When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
- Psalm 63:6
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
- Psalm 119:11-16
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
- Psalm 145:5
20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.
- Proverbs 4:20-22
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
- Luke 2:19
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
- 2 Timothy 2:7
The first thing that pops into someone’s mind when he or she hears the word is the middle-eastern practice of transcendental meditation. The Biblical understanding of meditation is, in fact, the opposite of some new age cult. Some understand it to be the emptying of one’s mind, however the Christian approach is filling the mind, particularly with the things of Christ in the Scriptures. The word literally means “to murmur”, and in this context, we are to murmur to ourselves the things of God revealed to us. Meditation is so important because it takes the truth of God’s Word and sinks it down into our hearts; and the above quoted Scriptures clearly demonstrate that Christians are expected mull over truth during private devotions.
Conclusion: Consider Zion
As always, the church should take responsibility for the lack of uprightness in this area of life. We have let yoga clubs snatch this out of our hands and suppress the truth. We can, however, appreciate the world’s discipline in this area, and learn from them in many ways. We have so much to cover in future articles, so stay tuned as we discuss many other things that pertain to meditation, like the means of grace, imagination, creation, the Puritan practice of meditation, and more. Let us change this about our church culture today, and become a people who “considers well the ramparts of Zion” (Psalm 48:13)!
Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.