Chapter 4: How to practice Christian Meditation
Throughout this christian meditation guide, we looked at what Christian meditation is and isn't, at what the bible says about meditation, and how Christian leaders through time have used meditation in their prayer practice. By now, you may be eager to start your own meditative prayer practice, so this chapter provides practical steps to help you get started.
Make a commitment to Christian Mediation
In so many areas of life, whether it’s physical fitness, healthy eating or praying, we live in a resolution culture. How many of us have resolved on January 1st to go to the gym daily, only to have lost our membership card by March? The thing we often forget when starting these new journeys is to build a sustainable practice.
Making meditative prayer sustainable must start with a commitment to consistency. Having a regular prayer time that you commit to is key because prayer is not always going to be “interesting” or “exciting.” Yet, as Pastor Rich Villodas explains, our prayer lives are often uneventful so we need to “normalize boredom.” So set aside a regular time of day to meditate, and pick a place. When choosing the time/place, make sure you find somewhere where you can be alone and quiet. And be realistic about your time commitments. Consistently meditating for 15 minutes a day is better than setting the goal of 1 hour that’s difficult to fit into your schedule. If you can, schedule your prayer time at the same time each day, or take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to decide on your prayer time for that week.
Let go of control in Christian Mediation
In addition to committing, we also have to let go of our need to control and judge the outcomes. Just like fitness: perhaps you start working out with a goal of losing weight, but after some time, the weight might not be coming off. That doesn’t mean you are not improving your health. In the same way, many of us come to prayer with specific needs and things we want to see change. But prayer is not a consumer tool and you don’t necessarily know what God is going to do during your daily prayer time.
So, you must be willing to come as you are, and see what God accomplishes. As Oswald Chambers notes: “To say that ‘prayer changes things’ is not as close to the truth as saying, ‘Prayer changes me and then I change things.’ God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.”
Practical Steps to do Christian Meditation
So, if you’re ready to commit and get started, here are some practical steps
- Preparing to meditate
- Pick a time, and find a quiet space
- Pick verses of scripture to meditate on: If you attend a church regularly, you might use your church bulletin and meditate on the latest verses from your church sermon. Or, you could go through the Psalms, or choose the Beatitudes or another one of Jesus’ teachings. You can also find scriptures in the Book of Common Prayer or the Divine Office, a daily set of readings used by churches across the globe. We recommend choosing more than 1 verse, though not such a long passage that you’ll have trouble remembering key points.
- Complete your meditation
- Quiet: take a few minutes to focus on Lord and shut out distractions. You can try breathing exercises, or maybe singing a hymn to get focused.
- Read: read or listen to your chosen verses 2-3 times.
- Meditate: Consider what the Holy Spirit is saying to you through the scripture.
- Respond: end by responding to what God has shown you. You can do this with vocal prayer, silence, or maybe even writing reflections in a journal.
Resources for practicing Christian Meditation
Thankfully, Christian meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. You can get started with your bible, and simply follow the steps above. You can also try a few ancient practices like Lectio Divina or Ignatian Meditation.
But, for many of us, having structure and a guided Christian meditation experience can be very beneficial. A Christian meditation app like Behold can serve as a guide for daily prayer and help you silence yourself and listen to scripture. Plus, Behold features guided prayers from across church traditions so you can pray the words of those who have gone before us. If you have 10 minutes, you can get started right now with the meditation below, or look on Behold's YouTube page for additional prayers.
Next, let’s discuss some of the benefits of christian meditation.