Lectio Divina: Christian Meditation

Lectio Divina: Christian Meditation

Part 1 of our Spiritual Disciplines Series

Originally posted on February 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM on www.totallyfit4life.com Reposted 4/10/2024 www.charlainemartin.com

Have you wondered about Christian meditation and how to practice it? With all of the wellness practices out in the general public–part-and-parcel with the health, fitness & wellness community in gyms and medical facilities–meditation in all its forms is not only popular but expected. Certifying agencies like mine encourage and even train exercise instructors and personal trainers how to teach Zen Buddhist meditation but never call it what it truly is. They sometimes refer to it as Zen reflections. Essentially, we are being trained to be Buddhist “evangelists”! I refuse to cave into the pressure, though. Why? Because I believe God wants us to relate to Him in His own unique way.

 Whether transcendental meditationmindfulnessyoga, or Tai Chi, among many more, we are urged to practice them for better health, greater mental clarity, and stress reduction. When an instructor or class leader for meditation is questioned about its religious roots, most will claim it isn’t religious at all. However, these meditative practices are rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. Is it alright for us to practice? I look at it this way: Christians are called to be different and set apart for God. In Joshua 1:7-9 we read,

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

In 1 Peter 2:9, we are called to be different–special, unique, peculiar—people:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

We are charged by God to set ourselves apart for Him.

Christian Meditation vs. Buddhist Meditation

Buddhist meditation empties one’s mind and allows thoughts to pass through without judgment. Then, when the mind becomes quiet, sitting, lying, or standing in a particular position, with hands in a “prayer position,” palms pressed together with fingertips pointed upward, elbows outward, they begin chanting mantras like “Om” in a humming tone. The goal is to become one with the great Tao in Zen Buddhism or the Universe in the New Age. I’ve seen the transcendent state, an altered state of consciousness, as intently gazing into nothingness. It’s creepy! Essentially, “the lights are on, but no one is home” look. I’ve seen yoga practitioners and martial artists in this state, which appears extremely intense. My question is,” Why would someone want to connect with nothing? When they aren’t ‘home,’ who or what could come in to occupy their ‘home’ while they are gone?” Everything they understand is only within what God created, but they aren’t connecting with our Creator God.

Instead, Christians, as God’s chosen people who are set apart and holy for God, are called to connect at a deeper level with Him. This connection through Christian meditation never brings us into an altered state of consciousness. Instead, we gain a greater awareness of God’s presence in our lives. There is something beyond creation—our Creator God!

Lectio Divina: Christian Meditation to Connect on a Deeper Level with God

When Christians meditate, we fill our minds and spirits with God’s Word, His goodness, and His character. Nothing in this involves a specific posture; instead, we position ourselves before God with humble, open hearts.

This passage calls us to meditate on the very Word of God.

Psalm 48:9-10 NIV tells us to meditate on God’s love. In it, it says, 

“Within your temple, O God,

we meditate on your unfailing love.

Like your name, O God,

your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;

your right hand is filled with righteousness.”

The NKJV version says, “we have thought…” instead of “meditate on.”

When we are troubled, we are to meditate upon situations that concern us prayerfully. The psalmist, concerned about troubled times, says this in Psalm 77:5-7,

I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?

Our meditation is contemplating, thinking about, or reflecting on God’s Word, His character, and His activity in our lives both past and present. This is the heart of Christian meditation.

I have been amazed and concerned about the misconceptions Christians have about meditation. Some believe that reading a daily devotional such as Our Daily Bread is meditation. Devotionals are wonderful but not as deep as what I present here. Others believe it is okay to sit still cross-legged with palms up on one’s knees and chanting a word from Scripture is Christian meditation. This is a blend of New Age with Christian practice. There are Christians who put down Lectio Divina as a demonic practice without researching what it truly is. Numerous Christians try buying Christian Meditation kits and studies when they genuinely don’t need them! The marketing practices for these kits and studies rake in tons of money. Some use essential oils and chant a mantra of a word in the Bible passage, believing that transliterating Buddhist practices into Christianity is helpful in their connection with God. Although I can’t judge them, I can share this idea with you:

Consider smelling an amazing aftershave on one of your husband’s friends. Because you like it, you buy it for your husband. And to top it off, you like your husband’s friend’s wife’s dress, which is obviously a turn-on to her husband. So you find a dress just like it and wear it on your date when you give him the aftershave and tell him how much you love him. How well would that go over with your husband? Probably not well. Our God is a Jealous God Who doesn’t want us to follow after gods which aren’t really gods at all. Why would we offer God something that He doesn’t like or want? All He wants is your wholehearted devotion to Him.

Practicing Christian Meditation

If you look them up, you will find variations of Lectio Divina. This method I am offering you is tried and true and free of cost. I want to share with you this age-old practice of Christian meditation from an ancient tradition, as I learned in the Spiritual Formation class at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio.

What you need: a quiet room, soft Christian music playing in the background like gospel, praise and worship, or Scripture set to music, a comfortable chair, highlighter, pen, notebook, and a translation of the Bible you usually read (no paraphrase, please). Leave electronic devices outside the room. Use a Bible rather than your Bible app because notifications are distracting. You need quiet, uninterrupted time with God.

1. Begin with a typical passage of Scripture by slowly reading through it, prayerfully asking God to speak to you through the passage. Some passages may be challenging to read in this manner. Save those for regular Bible study. Thank Him for His goodness, grace, and insight. Be ready to listen to God because you have set yourself before Him and are ready to learn from Him.

2. As you read, highlight anything that stands out to you repeatedly. Jot down any impressions you have about the passage. Continually pray as you read because it is only you and God in the room. Allow God to teach you through His Word.

3. Note any messages God gives you as you ponder the passage. You may find yourself re-reading the passage a few times. How does this passage speak to your own life? Are there changes He wants you to make? Things He wants you to do? An answer to prayer? Remember that God never contradicts His Word in the Bible.

4. When you feel that it is time to end, take time to thank God for teaching you today. Give Him praise and glory! Ask Him for His help and guidance to put into practice what He has revealed to you.

5. If you have something He wants you to do, write it down and begin an action plan to put into practice what He is telling you. If there were no impressions, plan to meditate on this passage again unless the Lord says no. “Camping out” in a passage may happen quite often.

Don’t be discouraged if you have thoughts or your To-Do list creep in that have nothing to do with God’s Word. Jot them on a sheet of paper and offer them to God for Him to take care of. Reflect on what relates to the passage. If intrusive thoughts persist, then prayerfully ask God about these issues. Maybe He wants you to deal with them. Leave out ritualistic practices like palms up & palms down that have nothing to do with God. If a passage causes curiosity and you want to look something up in a commentary, lectionary, or Bible encyclopedia, note it to look up later. Make this time an intimate time with God instead of in-depth Bible study. Set a regular appointment to spend with Him.

Your relationship with God is the most important relationship you have. Nurturing it will change your life. May God bless you!

For discussion: In your quiet time with God and His Word, what impressions has He given you? Feel free to share the information below in the comments or email me at totallyfit63@gmail.com.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Except where noted.

Celebration of Discipline, Revised Edition by Richard J. Foster. Pp. 15-32. Copyright 1988 by Richard J. Foster. Harper Publishing Company, San Francisco.

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