God is a God of words. He speaks the universe into existence. He sends his Word to the world in the incarnate presence of Jesus. He offers new, fresh truths to us today in Scripture. But the nature of words requires not only a speaker. Words are designed to be received by those who would listen. Are you a good listener?
One way we can train ourselves to be a good listener to the words of God is through meditation. Meditation is often perceived to be an emptying of the mind, but the Judeo-Christian practice of meditation is the exact opposite. In our tradition, meditation is the practice of focusing so deeply on a piece of scripture or phrase or event that we become fully present to God.
To begin the practice of meditation, first ask yourself when it is easiest for you to focus your mind and heart. Choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. The length of time isn’t important. You can begin this practice with 5 or 30 minutes a day.
Find a quiet space and take a moment to breathe as you begin. Identify what will be your focal point for your meditation. Some possibilities include:
- Scripture - choose a Psalm or a passage like Philippians 2:1-11
- Current Events - consider something that is happening in the world; use an article about that event as an informative focal point
- Nature - take a walk and carefully observe all the non-man-made objects you see
- Quote - read a passage that has helped other Christians on their journeys (i.e. Nicene Creed, C.S. Lewis quote, etc.)
After spending a few minutes reading your material or observing your focal point, ask yourself some questions:
- What does this focal point reveal about God?
- What might God want to say to me through this focal point?
- How can this focal point help me to see the world in a new light?
- How is this focal point inviting me to pray in a new way?
Return to your focal point and your thoughts about these guiding questions over and over. As you begin the practice of meditation you may discover that you are easily distracted. That’s normal. Don’t worry when your brain takes a tangent - that may be God working to reveal something to you. But when you realize your thoughts have drifted from the subject matter, trace your curiosity back to the focal point so that the connection between your new thoughts and the original thoughts becomes evident.
When your meditation time is up, don’t just drift into the next activity of the day. Clearly mark the end of your meditation with a prayer of gratitude for God’s presence with you.
May the words of God you discover during your time of meditation give you abundant life.