The short answer is that yes Christians do meditate. However, what is it composed of? What is biblically accurate Christian meditation?
Various meditation methods around the world will have you spend time using controlled breathing methods, repeated phrases, clearing the mind, particular exercise and so on during meditation. They often fixate on achieving an altered state of mind &/or relaxation.
Christian meditation is a much more flexible action than those.
Christian meditation is a time of reflection.
The book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.Joshua 1:8 (NASB)
Another example . . .
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,Psalm 1:2 (NASB)
And in His law he meditates day and night.
The words used to describe this action aren’t always “meditate.” For example:
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,Proverbs 15:28 (NASB)
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Christian meditation is a time to reflect on God’s truth. This includes His Law but it also includes any part of His Word, the Scriptures.
As you may already be imagining, this is a highly adaptable activity. You could be meditating on Proverbs 15:1 as you drive your car or perhaps you spend time thinking on a passage you finished in Romans 9 as you sit reclined in a rocking chair.
I find the best times to meditate on the Lord and His precepts is when I can put the most focus on the topic while maintaining as few distractions as possible. This is why favorites of mine are to simply lie down and stare at the ceiling as I think. I find it similarly helpful to do the same outdoors but instead looking up at the sky.
Meditation is not necessarily always and specifically on Scripture as it can include reflecting on a past action but considering it light of God’s direction. I will do this by reflecting on a past conversation that I had with someone as we discussed the Gospel. I will reflect on what was said, what could have been said, and what I should say the next I meet them. Of course, my thoughts are considering all this in light of God’s Word. You could call this a practical application meditation. The thing you have to be careful about here is to keep your mind God-focused as without Him included in the reflecting time, it would likely then devolve into a time of fretting and worry.
The verses I provided above are simply the tip of the iceberg. Here are a more:
Psalm 4:4, 19:14, 39:3, 49:3, 63:5, 73:12-22, 77:10-12, 104:34, 139:5
Psalm 119:11, 16, 23, 48, 55, 59, 78, 97-99, 148
1 Timothy 4:13-15
As you look through the above verses, many use the English word “meditate” but they do not all do so. Nevertheless, they deal with the same topic. Reading each verse in context makes this apparent.
For more formal definitions of meditation, here are the following:
Act of calling to mind some supposition, pondering upon it, and correlating it to one’s own life. A wicked individual meditates upon violence (Prov. 24:2). The meditation of a righteous person contemplates God or His great spiritual truths (Psalm 63:6; 77:12; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 148; 143:5) He hopes to please God by meditation (Ps. 19:14). Thus meditation by God’s people is a reverent act of worship. Through it they commune with God and are thereby renewed spiritually.Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary p. 1096
Spending time in quietness and usually alone, drawing close to God and listening to Him, pondering on His word, His creation, His mighty works or other aspects of His self-revelation.Dictionary of Bible Themes
For further reading/sources, see the following:
- Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, Archie England, Steve Bond, E. Ray Clendenen, Trent C. Butler, and Bill Latta, ed. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.
- Carpenter, Eugene E., and Philip W. Comfort. Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew Words Defined and Explained. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.
- Manser, Martin H. Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser, 2009.
- New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.
- Swanson, James, and Orville Nave. New Nave’s Topical Bible. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1994.