A rapper named Killah Priest has a song that includes the following line:
When you pray you talk to God. When you meditate God talks to you.
To be clear this isn’t really a Biblically based statement, and the song is secular not Christian rap. Still, the perspective is interesting. At United’s Sunday Encounters, Pastor Pope is in the midst of delivering a series of sermons that explain how we should pray. His sermons revolve around the following acrostic:
T – Thanksgiving
A – Adoration
C – Confession
O – Others
S – Supplication
TACOS is a very useful tool for remembering everything that should be included in our prayers. It helps ensure that we consistently say everything we need to say to God when we pray. However, therein lies part of the problem. We can use TACOS to guide how we talk to God, but if we consistently just go through that checklist, say Amen, and then go on our way to do something else, do we ever actually give God a chance to speak back? One might assume that all believers want to hear from God. Many believers might admit that they don’t know if God has ever actually spoken to them. That wouldn’t be surprising. When we pray, we spend all our time doing the talking. When do we actually listen?
Some might be surprised to find that the Bible mentions meditation.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1:18
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8
The above verses came from the New King James Version. Other versions use words like “think,” but it’s all the same. The Bible is instructing us to take his Word into our hearts and to contemplate deeply on what God is trying to tell us. That is meditation.
Meditation isn’t as fundamentally tied to the Christian walk as it is to the practices followed in other religions like Buddhism or Hinduism. As Christians, we believe our way is the only true way to follow God. That doesn’t mean we can’t take lessons from other belief systems. For example, Muslims are very intentional and regimented when it comes to their prayer lives. That’s certainly something Christians could benefit from emulating. Perhaps meditation could also be a useful addition to our daily Christian routines. We wouldn’t be seeking enlightenment like the Buddhists, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t come to our own revelations through meditation.
The Bible tells us that God answers prayers.
When Jeremiah delivered God’s Word to his people, he stated:
“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ – Jeremiah 33:2-3
A psalm spoke of listening to what the Lord said:
I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. – Psalm 85:8
Quite a few verses in the Old Testament referenced the voice of God, and several of the stories have moments where God spoke directly to various people. Most of us have never actually heard the audible voice of God and likely never will. However, the Old Testament also told us that God spoke to his servants through the Holy Spirit too.
As he was dying, David said:
“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. – 2 Samuel 23:2
The same spirit that spoke to David and used him to deliver a message to God’s people now lives in all believers because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5
The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit guides our prayers and plays a role in our communication with God.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. – Romans 8:26
God can speak to any of us just like he did with David and the prophets in the Bible. We just have to be open to hearing him. We all know that we need to take time to pray and talk to God, but do we want or expect our communication with God to be one sided or do we want something more like a dialogue? If it’s the latter, then we should also strive to give God a chance to speak back to us and be open to hearing what he has to say. Maybe meditation can help with that, or maybe we just need to learn to lean on the Holy Spirit more in everything we do. Whatever we do, as we strive to improve our prayer life, let us also make it a goal to give God more opportunity to speak to us. Once we let him speak to us, maybe we’ll be better able to let him speak to others through us.
Image Courtesy of the Christian Meditation Center