Christian Spirituality – Growing in a relationship with God
How does meditation play a part in Christian worship?
Life can be full of noise and distractions and many people like to practice meditation as an opportunity to unwind or reflect. Perhaps one might go to a meditation class or listen to a meditation CD. Some people practise yoga or pilates which include elements of meditation to help calm and exercise the mind. Many world faiths practise meditation as a way of concentrating the mind, connecting with the divine and focusing on oneself in order to find a sense of peace and purpose. So what is meditation and what does it look like from a Christian point of view?
Christians may practise meditation in a variety of ways but the idea behind it will be to grow closer to God by creating a space to allow God to speak or reveal more of Himself to the person seeking him.
Some Christians see meditation as an extension of prayer, they may light a candle and be still for a few moments taking time to listen. Some Christians may take time to read and reflect on a Bible passage or verse, taking time to think about what it’s saying and how it applies to them. Some Christians like to look at pictures – they could be a religious icon depicting a scene from the Bible or they could be pictures taken from life, maybe in a newspaper or magazine giving them chance to think about God at work in the world.
Others may like to take part in a guided meditation maybe with others, perhaps someone will read from the Bible taking time to pause or ask the listener to consider what is being said. Some churches offer visitors a guided meditation around their buildings, taking them on a tour but giving them opportunity to stop and reflect on God and themselves as they journey around the church.
Jesus himself took time out away from others to spend time with God in order to re-charge and refresh. The Bible says “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35.
Meditating often involves being physically still but the English word meditation is derived from the Latin meditatio, meaning “to think, contemplate, devise and ponder”. This suggests doing something active, even if it can appear passive. Psalm 119 talks about reflecting on what God has said and putting it into practice.
Christians may find that when they take time to be still that is when they are more aware of the presence of God and are more active in listening to Him. Sometimes Christians can find that God reveals things to them when they take time to reflect and be still. Equally meditating can involve doing something physically active but with the intention of being open to God. This may involve painting a picture, playing an instrument, dancing, going running or reading a book. Meditation in the Christian tradition isn’t about emptying your mind of conscious thought but more about becoming more aware of who God is, his work in people’s lives and in the wider world.