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On Christian Devotional Meditation

 
 

Week 1, November 2015

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

(Psalm 63:1)

 

Every so often, our souls can be filled with a longing to be in the presence of God. Many different reasons can trigger this thirst, for example, we may actually feel dry and empty spiritually; we may be troubled by certain problems and, therefore, seek respite from God; or we may simply love God and want to enjoy him even more. Christian devotional meditation (CDM) can offer a powerful provision for any of these realities.

 

This month I’d like to write some more about Christian Devotional Meditation. In this first blog I’ll point to some differentiating characteristics of CDM as compared to sermons and songs on the one hand and secular (mindfulness) meditation on the other. And…in the next 3 blogs I’ll provide a shortened version of 3 meditations that are specifically designed to address certain issues (anxiety, rest (i.e. lack thereof), and thankfulness (it’s almost Thanksgiving!).

 

First, let me make a few introductory comments about the specific character of Christian Devotional Meditations. The meditations that I’m developing target specific psychospiritual issues that people may struggle with, such as anxiety, depression, guilt, thankfulness, miscarriage, unbalanced self-esteem, and so on. They are meant for personal use or as tool for soul care providers who can use them with their counselees/clients.

The overall purpose of these meditations is to increase faith. This may happen when people experience both that God knows them and their specific situation, and when they learn that God is present in the midst of what they are going through.

These meditations will be most effective when people listen to them rather than read them themselves, because this listening heightens the personal and experiential character of the meditation.

Though sermons and songs may have a similar effect, there are several things that set meditations apart from them. For example:

  • Meditations start with a specific psychological/social/spiritual problem people may face. Rather than being the starting point for a biblical reflection (which is often the case in sermons), the Bible is, thus, used to create a meditation that is scripturally sound and provides specific Christian reflection on a certain issue.
  • Meditations are potentially more personal in nature, because they’re designed for a specific audience and a specific psychospiritual issue.
  • They provide greater opportunity for someone to take in Christian spiritual truths, due to the slower pace of the meditation.
  • They are more interactive (questions are asked, the imagination is engaged, specific actions are suggested) which allows for a potentially deeper experience and appropriation of God’s truths.

Christian meditation is also different from secular from mindfulness meditation in the following ways:

  • CDM does not share the Buddhist worldview that is, in greater or lesser extent, always present in secular (mindfulness) meditations (see previous blogs on meditation on this site for more information).
  • More specifically, secular mindfulness merely observes what is going on and tries to let it be and come to peace with it. Christian meditation purposes more. Observation, which is part of self-examination (a.o. Psalm 26:2, 139:23; 16:3; Lam. 3:40; 1 Thes. 2:4) is important, but rather than just accepting the status quo, God wants to work in people to help them find growth and healing as they surrender themselves to God in faith and become more Christ-like in character. Initial acceptance of the status quo may be required, but is most often not the end.
  • Secular mindfulness meditations do not include God or the Bible.

 

Next week, I’ll provide a shortened version of a Christian Devotional Meditation that was specifically designed for people struggling with anxiety.

May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to God, our rock and our redeemer (Psalm 19:14)

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4 Comments

  1. Michael Spalione says:

    Thanks for the insights, Lydia. I am looking forward to the next 3!

  2. Lydia Kim says:

    Thanks for your comment!

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