April 1, 2008 · Print This Article
Christian Meditation Made Easy
“For God is Love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him,” 1 John 4:16
Christian Meditation has several practices that help to still the mind. All are centered on developing a deep love for God and connecting with God through His son Jesus Christ.
As Pope John Paul II said:
“Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him.” From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ,” (see Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13).
The clarity of this statement reveals the deep understanding that Pope John Paul II held of Christ and his deep connection to the Spirit. How does an ordinary person access this same type of understanding? How does one develop a relationship with the ‘interior teacher?’
As Pope John Paul II noted, there is a demand in this age for meditation. Yet many Christians are limited in their knowledge of the Christian contemplative tradition. Yet that tradition exists for those who seek it. Outlined below are some primary examples of Christian meditation practices to develop your relationship with God.
Study of the Scripture
The study of scripture is an indispensable method for Christian Meditation. The Bible mentions meditation and meditate 20 times. Joshua 1:8 says:”Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
The Bible, as the Word of God, should be read and meditated upon daily. Begin your practice by dedicating yourself to reading the Bible daily. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, devote yourself to reading God’s word every day.
After you have dedicated yourself to reading the Bible daily, take some of that time where you were reading, and dedicate it to meditating on the scriptures. To do this, read a passage of the bible. Then close your eyes, and focus on the verse or verses you just read. Continue to repeat the verses to yourself from memory and allow those words to permeate your entire being. Imagine the words going into you, and filling you. By meditating in this way, you will retain the Word of God within you. Many pious followers of Christ have reported that they have experienced profound and mystical revelations after meditating on the scriptures in this way.
Thomas Keating wrote an excellent article called Prayful Reading of the Bible which I encourage you to read. You may also want to read a sermon by Preacher Charles Spurgeon about Meditating on the Scriptures which I also feel is worthwhile.
Christian Meditation using the Rosary
Praying the rosary is an excellent way to lift the burdens of the mind. By wrapping your mind in the repetition of the rosary, you surrender life’s burdens to Christ. In the words of Pope John Paul II:”To pray the rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. It is natural to bring to this encounter with the sacred humanity of the Redeemer all the problems, anxieties, labors and endeavors which go to make up our lives. “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you,” (Ps 55:23).
To begin this practice, purchase a rosary. Having a physical rosary will help root you in this practice.
For step-by-step instructions on how to recite the rosary, click here. If you’d like illustrated instructions, please click here. As you recite the rosary, meditate on the significant events of Christ’s life. For a full explanation of each of the mysteries of the rosary, click on these links: The Joyful Mysteries, The Sorrowful Mysteries, The Glorious Mysteries, Luminous Mysteries.
Pope John Paul II wrote an inspirational message about meditating on the Rosary in his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary. By allowing your mind and spirit to become suffused in the life and teachings of Christ, you open yourself to a greater experience of God’s presence in your life and God’s love within your heart. May this Christian Meditation practice support you in your life.
While meditating on the Word of God and meditating on the life of Christ through the repetition of the Rosary are powerful forms of Christian Meditation, they are also very active methods of prayer. Contemplative prayer, also called centering prayer, on the otherhand, is non-active.Contemplative prayer emphasizes a personal relationship with God. By remaining receptive to receiving God’s grace, one opens to the experience of God’s presence and God’s love.
To practice Christian Meditation in the form of contemplative prayer, start by sitting comfortably. Refrain from verbal or mental repetition of prayer, and focus on preparing yourself inwardly to receive God’s presence and guidance within you. Use a sacred word as a symbol of your intention to consent to God’s action and presence within. Introduce the sacred word within yourself. If your mind wanders, return your attention to the sacred word. Rest in silence for a few minutes before you end your meditation session.
This contemplative prayer is drawn from the practices of the Christian contemplative tradition, namely, the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. Three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts are attributed with distilling this method of contemplative prayer into a simple and easy to follow method.
They recommend two, 20-minute contemplative prayer sessions daily. And if you’re wondering what sacred word to use, you may choose your own, or use Lord, Jesus, Christ, Abba, Father, Mother, Peace, Love, or any other word that you feel represents your consent to God’s action and presence within.
For more detailed information on this form of Christian Meditation, click here.
I hope you receive many great and wonderful experiences of God within through your continual efforts with these Christian Meditation practices, and through God’s benevolent grace.
I am honored if you would like to share your experiences or insights by contacting me. May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. May you be supported in your efforts of Christian Meditation.