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Christian Meditation: How's Your Prayer Life?
Lord Teach Us to Pray
Meditation: The Greatest Quest
What is meditation? Now we are not speaking about Eastern or Buddhist meditation here. We are talking about the next stage of Christian prayer as handed down by the Apostles. Jesus said, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Meditation is to turn your attention to God - to think about what He has said or done. In order to discover and understand him better and to form firm convictions about what he said or did, so that we will put them into practice in our own lives with the help of His grace. Meditation is to think about something Jesus has said or done, to understand it better and to form a firm conviction that we will then go out and put into practice.
Example of a Prayerful Time of Meditation
Let me give you an example of a meditation and a resolution:
Let’s say I spend time reading and thinking about Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6: 25-34, where in the last line Jesus tells me “So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
As I read this I am struck by this last line. So I stop reading and I just think about it. I think about all the things I have to get done, and there is just not enough time to do them. I’m a little overwhelmed and even a little angry about it. Lord How can you tell me not to worry about it? But as I reflect on this further I see that Jesus is not telling me I shouldn’t plan ahead or work diligently. But he is telling me not to be controlled by worry – that worry is counterproductive.
Yes, I should plan, I should work hard, but I can trust that God will help me get done what needs to get done and the rest I can abandon to HIM.
Then I begin to realize He wants me just to focus on what I can realistically do today. Stay focused on the present, on today, don’t live in tomorrow. Live in the present. So then, right there is my resolution.
The thing that Jesus wants me to remember and to put into practice today – that is to fight the temptation to live in the future and worry about it. Rather just focus on what I can do today and leave the rest to God.
So to recap our discussion, Prayer is a close friendship with God. Talking and listening to Him. Vocal prayer is speaking to God and Meditation is listening to Him. Yet, one of the problems is that we do not know how to listen to God and how to deal with distractions. That is why Reading helps in Meditation.
3 Steps of Meditation
The required attentiveness in prayer is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books: Sacred Scripture, particularly the Gospels, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history – the page on which the “today” of God is written.
Let me give you some examples of good material to read during meditation?
- The best book to read is the Bible because it is the word of God.
- In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children and talks with them.
- The best place to begin in the Bible are the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because these give us the life, and words, and deeds of Jesus.
- Other great spiritual writings to read during your meditation time that inspire you to draw closer to Christ and to more and more imitate him.
To begin your prayer time go somewhere where you can be in solitude and silence for a period of time. We should begin our prayer by reminding ourselves that we are in the presence of God.
Second, read the meditation for the day.
- As soon as something strikes you – stop reading.
- Reflect or think about what struck you as long as it holds your interest.
- Talk to God about it
- Pay attention to the things He inspires in your soul.
- If your mind wanders simply go back to the point that struck you or read a little further and move on to another point.
- God is not hindered by your distractions.
Third, before you conclude
- Choose one thing to remember or to do today based on your meditation - this is a resolution.
- By the resolution we turn our meditation into action and live the meditation all day.
- Choose something practical and concrete to remember or do through the day.
- I have found it very helpful to write down the resolution and keep it with me.
Prayer Should Point You to Christ
Hows Your Prayer Life
Which of these best describes your commitment to daily prayer
Regardless of method, all forms of meditation can be ultimately reduced to three essential steps or parts:
- Consideration of some supernatural truth,
- Application of that truth to one's life,
- And the resolution to do something about it.
We can remember these 3 essential steps by 3 R’s Read, Reflect and a Resolution.