Below is a post from 4/20/2017 along with a newer resource on prayer.
The Lost Art of Meditation
We live in a fast paced world. Everything is on the go, we must get things done and move on to the next item on the agenda. If we aren't careful, this frantic pace can bleed into our walk with Christ and begin to drain the power of abiding in Him through relationship. Most of us do great with reading the bible daily. Most of us probably even have a decent discipline of prayer. But there's an in between element of long deliberate reflecting on the scripture, in connection with prayer, that seems to be lacking in our culture. This reflecting is called meditation. Tim Keller in his book on prayer says that it is very difficult to jump from academic study of the Bible into prayer without the bridge of meditation. It's interesting that in a book written to teach us how to have vibrant, compelling, robust prayer lives he gives a significant amount of time to meditation first. Simply put, he says that we are naturally self-absorbed, and cold hearted, so before we can pray with a proper perspective we have to allow scripture to do it's work on our hearts by deep thinking.
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." -Heb. 4:12
Hebrews 4 speaks about Gods word as something that searches us. Something that dives down deep into the dark places of our hearts and brings the light of the gospel to bear. It's a transforming agent that does cleansing work in hard to reach areas. So if we simply read scripture and close the book without giving it time to do it's work, can we really say we have been impacted by it at a heart level? Meditation is what plunges the scripture from our minds, down deep into our hearts. If we are reading a passage in Romans 8 talking about the never ending, never failing, all-consuming love of God in Christ, I've got to think about these things until they affect how I feel. I've got to dwell on them until it changes the way I think about how God sees me. I've got to allow those truths to start producing a desire in me to live differently. If not, I only know intellectually that God loves. It's only after I've done this deep thinking, allowing the gospel to stir up my affections for Christ, that prayer and communication with God takes on new life. As you are leading your D-Groups and investing in others, pass on the discipline of meditation. Teach people how to ask questions of scripture and mull over what they are reading. There is very natural meditation that takes place through journaling along with Bible reading. See www.highview.org/discipleship for tips on journaling. As you are journaling, it helps to think through a series of meditation questions on how this passage searches your heart and affections.
Good questions to ask:
-What does this passage say about God and his character that I can worship Him for?
-How have I disobeyed, missed the mark, or followed a negative example?
-How does this remind me of the grace of Jesus in the gospel or motivate a change in you?
-How does the grace of Jesus help me become this? What difference would it make in my life if I actually believed this?
Lord Teach Us to Pray
As Christians, there is nothing more essential to our relationship with God than our prayer lives. I don't think it's a stretch to say that prayer often makes us uncomfortable. We're so used to being entertained by screens. We're so uncomfortable with periods of silence and so untrained in our minds to stay focused on the task. Jesus' disciples once asked Him "Lord, teach us to pray." That always blows me away because they watched him do supernatural miracles all the time. They saw him do big time ministry and works of God. But they never asked "Lord, teach us to do a miracle." They wanted to learn his language of prayer. Recently we did a video walking through a method for prayer called praying the Scriptures. It sounds simple, but the effect can be profound as we allow God's Word to give us direction and focus. Praying the Scriptures provides the very words and content of our prayers. This is something that can not only transform your prayer life but help you teach those you disciple to pray also. Check it out here.
Praying the Scriptures
Grace & Peace, Scott
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash