Meditation has risen in popularity in the U.S. by threefold since 2012. The custom has been around for thousands of years and is observed in nearly every religion but not many people know which forms of meditation actually come from the Bible.
The Christian Post decided to take a closer look at the practice of Christian meditation and some of the latest apps for it, including Soultime and Abide. CP spoke with some of the apps’ creators as well as pastors who revealed how important it is for Christ followers to understand meditation while exposing some of the rituals that have nothing to do with Christianity.
Meditation practices can be found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Some people practice meditation independent of any religion but are likewise looking for a sense of peace and insightfulness offered through the religious practices.
Workplaces throughout the United States are providing meditative breaks for their employees to help them “de-stress” and more schools are incorporating it into their schedules for young students. Psychotherapeutic techniques provided by physicians also sometimes include meditation to help those suffering from mental illnesses.
There are several varieties of meditation. Here are the six majors ones:
- Spiritual Meditation can be linked to Christianity because it involves prayer and reflection as one seeks a deeper connection with God
- Mindfulness Meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and instructs participants to pay attention to their thoughts without judgment or engaging them
- Focused Meditation involves one using any of their five senses to focus their attention on something internal.
- Mantra Meditation is linked to Hindu and Buddhist traditions and involves using repetitive sounds, such as the popular “om” in hopes to clear the participant’s mind.
- Transcendental Meditation is labeled one of the most popular forms of meditation. It was founded by an Indian guru and is reportedly the most studied type of meditation by scientists. Similar to mantra meditation but more specific, it’s based on different factors that can include someone’s birth year or gender.
- Movement Meditation is linked to yoga. This practice can include walking, gardening, or other forms of lite motion in which the movement guides.
The following section will explore what Christian meditation is, what it’s not and some tools that were created to assist Christians in meditation.
What is Christian meditation?
Mike Winger, associate pastor at Hosanna Christian Fellowship in California and a popular YouTube Bible teacher, cited the book of Joshua to explain what the word “meditate” means.
“This 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)
“Meditate,” Winger said, “is a Hebrew word that has a range of meaning but in the context of this passage it is talking about speaking in a quiet voice like when you are really thinking something through. You could picture someone reading to themselves quietly or working out a problem out loud. This is what I call ‘thinking out loud.’
“It isn’t really related to the idea of monks harmonizing in deep guttural tones with indistinct words. It’s a person who is thinking deeply and thoroughly about the Bible.”
The type of meditation the Bible is encouraging is not a way of “feeling good” but rather, a way of learning Scripture “so that we can do what it says,” Winger clarified.
“Every time you listen to a Bible study, read the text of Scripture or just sit and mull over the meaning of the Bible, you are doing this kind of meditation, just so long as the end result is that you would obey it. The direct application is to Joshua’s people at the time but the principle of ‘studying the Bible to obey what it says’ applies to us today.”
Along with meditating on the Word of God, Scripture encourages Christians to meditate on who God is and what He has done, Winger added.
“There are actually several times in the Bible where someone considers who God is and it changes their mentality in very positive ways. After many chapters of confusion and complaining, Job sees God and comes to realize how glorious, sovereign and wise God is. This causes Job to see his own life in a new light and to stop his complaints against God,” the pastor explained.
He also cited Psalm 73 to note how the psalmist “stops grieving over the wickedness of ungodly people when he goes into the temple and remembers that God is the judge of all” and then “sets himself on the path of just trusting and obeying God.”
“We do need to stop and think about who God is, what God has done and what God has promised to do; it’s a remedy to all manner of wrong thinking.”