MEDITATE: H1897, hâgâh, haw-gaw'
A primitive root (compare H1901); to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication to ponder: - imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, X sore, speak, study, talk, utter.
When we first hear the word “meditation” we may automatically associate it with an Indian Yogi living in a cave high in the Himalayas, or a Maharishi teaching “Transcendental Meditation”(TM) to a Hollywood starlet in an ashram somewhere in Southern California. Mature Christians have a healthy inclination to avoid anything that might even remotely be associated with Eastern mysticism. We often automatically remember the admonition from the Apostle Paul:
1Co 10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
The key question we should always ask before we pass judgment on anyone or anything is…What is its source? I only have a passing knowledge of Transcendental Meditation (TM), probably the same as anybody who was raised in the 60’s and 70’s, when Hinduism and Buddhism exploded upon our Western Christian culture. However, what little I have read about TM seems to be very familiar. Why? You may ask. Meditation was not invented by Hinduism.
Although meditation has negative associations, we can readily see by reading Joshua’s exhortation in the Book of Joshua 1:8, that meditation has been around for many thousands of years, and meditation is also endorsed by the Bible. However, there is a right and wrong way to do everything.
It is not surprising that demonic spirits would seek to counterfeit, and usurp a Biblical principal, in order to advance their satanic agenda. We know that Hindus pray to a multitude of gods. We know that Muslims pray to Allah. Does that make all prayer automatically suspect? If we can agree that the Bible encourages meditation, we should attempt to understand how to “meditate” according to Biblical principles, and we should also attempt to understand why Biblical meditation is important.
First, most Christians have “meditated” whether they know it or not. If you can quote John 3:16 from memory than you have probably meditated. Biblical meditation and Transcendental Meditation (TM) use the same techniques, but the goals and the eventual outcomes are radically different. Hindu meditation involves the use of “mantras” which are composed of chanted words and meaningless sounds to invoke specific states of mind, or to invoke Hindu gods. A Hindu “god” is just another word for “devil” according to the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians. Therefore, it is prudent to be careful.
The Sanskrit word mantra- (m.; also n. mantram) consists of the root man- "to think" (also in manas "mind") and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be "instrument of thought".
A "Mantra" (/ˈmæntrə, ˈmɑːn-, ˈmʌn-/ (Sanskrit: मंत्र);) is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers.
The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit by Hindus in India, and are at least 3000 years old. Mantras now exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Meditation, whether by a Christian or a Hindu, is an “instrument of thought”. Meditation is simply a method we use to focus our mind on words that convey an important idea, thought, or message. A Christian’s meditation “subject matter” should mainly be the Word of God! Meditating on God’s Word is the very basis of living a victorious Christian life:
1Jn 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God ABIDETH in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
ABIDETH: G3306, menō
1) to remain, abide
1a) in reference to place
1a1) to sojourn, tarry
1a2) not to depart
1a2a) to continue to be present
1a2b) to be held, kept, continually
The Apostle John complimented the young Christian men because the Word of God “abideth” in them, or was continually present in them, and they had overcome the wicked one. There is only one way that the Word of God can be continually present with a person; we must MEMORIZE the Word of God. Meditation is a “spiritual” method to memorize and absorb important information. The Word of God is the most important information either in heaven or on earth.
First, let us examine “how” we should meditate. The Hebrew word for meditation “hagah” means to mutter or to speak. It is important that when we are meditating on the Word of God, we “speak” it loud enough to “hear” it.
Also, we want to use repetition when we are meditating on the Word of God. Jesus said that the Son of Man sows the Word of God. You do not plant one seed of wheat and then sit back and hope you are going to reap a bumper crop. The more times a person repeats a Biblical verse, the more likely that the Word will produce an abundant harvest. I like to write down verses on cards and keep them next to my bed. Then I can read them first thing in the morning, and again right before I go to bed at night.
We should meditate on two or three verses dealing with the same subject matter: healing, love, grace, fear, patience, etc., or whatever God has put on our hearts.
Finally, if we are meditating on a long passage of scripture, we need to break it up into “bite size” portions. We should meditate on just a few sentences at a time, or on one subject at a time, and not go onto the next sentences, or the next subject, until we have thoroughly memorized what we are meditating upon.
Now let us examine “why” we meditate.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
SPEAKING God’s Word is the first key to Biblical meditation. Faith comes by HEARING, and hearing by the Word of God. If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, shouldn’t we hear it as much as possible? I suppose we could buy Bible tapes, or CD’s, or digital downloads, but wouldn’t it be a lot more simple and convenient just to SPEAK the Word to our self? I believe we have “spiritual” ears as well as physical ears. There is more to hearing than just sound vibrations on our eardrums. As we speak the Word of God over and over to ourselves, eventually we receive “revelation”. The Word of God will eventually begin to manifest spiritual fruit.
Psa 119:97 How I have loved thy law, O Lord! it is my meditation all the day.
Psa 119:98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
Psa 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
Psa 119:100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
REPETITION is another key to meditating on the Word of God. King David declared that he meditated on the law (Torah) all day because he loved it. If we speak specific verses to ourselves “all the day” it will not take us very long to absorb these verses and have them memorized. Look at the benefits King David outlined from meditation: He was made wiser than his enemies. He had more understanding than all his teachers. He had more understanding than the ancients. These are some pretty bold statements, but Jesus himself testified that the Psalms of David were inspired by God. Therefore, we ignore his testimony at our own peril.
Deu 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
MULTIPLE WITNESSES gives us context concerning specific Bible subjects when we meditate. It is easy to fall into error, or for people to mislead us, when a single Bible verse is taken out of context. We can even fool ourselves if we are not careful when meditating on the Word of God. If we can find three different verses from three different books in the Bible, and three different authors, we have context to understand what God is attempting to reveal in His Word.
In a court of law witnesses are cross-examined separately to determine whether their testimony is true or false. The Word of God is true and can never be broken. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they refused His testimony and the testimony of His Father.
Joh 8:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
Joh 8:18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
Where did the Father testify of the Son? In the Books of the Old Testament of course! If the Pharisees had meditated on the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah, they would have surely known the identity of Jesus Christ.
SIMPLICITY is the final key to meditation. Jesus encouraged His disciples to become like little children. When we are very young, we are taught the ABCs and the multiplication table by rote memory. Children do not question the validity of the ABCs or the multiplication table, they just memorize the basics in hopes of learning how to read and do more advanced math. These rote memory exercises give children a firm foundation in order to eventually comprehend more advanced knowledge.
Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
Isa 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
Isa 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
Isa 28:12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
The majority of people approach the Bible like it is a pulp fiction novel that they can read during their leisure free time…if and when they feel like it. Unfortunately that is why people can read the Bible for forty years and never make any spiritual progress. If you get serious with God, and start meditating on Bible verses, there is something far more important waiting for you than advanced calculous or the collected works of William Shakespeare.
Joh 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
1Ch 29:12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
There is absolutely nothing more important in our lifetime than knowing God. If we spend a small amount of time diligently and prayerfully learning the basics of the gospel, God can build upon this sure foundation to lead us ever deeper and ever higher into the unlimited depths and heights of His glory.
Psa 104:33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
Psa 104:34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.