Is Christian Meditation Okay?

Sit-together-in-silence-LisaNotes

A Doctor’s Visit

This isn’t why I meditate.

But this happened.

I was sitting across from my doctor in his office. We were discussing a small medical issue. He suggested a biopsy, just to rule out cancer.

But the procedure is very painful, he said.

I said okay anyway, thinking I’d schedule something in a few weeks.

Until he stood up and said, “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Oh! You mean do it right now?

I had no time to mentally prepare. To pray about it, research it, discuss it with Jeff.

It would be me and God on the fly.

I quickly slipped into meditation mode, an awareness of God’s presence in this moment, in this situation, inside of me.

And surprisingly, the very painful procedure was only minimally painful. I endured it much easier than they expected me to. (And, praise God, no cancer!)

I joked with the doctor afterwards:

Years of meditating have finally paid off!

But that’s not why I meditate.

Is Meditation Okay?

I used to think meditation was bad. I associated it with Eastern religions and saw no use for it in my Christian faith. I had been warned that emptying the mind is dangerous because it leaves the door open for bad things to enter in.

Then I learned about Centering Prayer; i.e., meditation. For 20 minutes a day, the practice is to close your eyes, be still, and just sit with God.

  • Is it okay to take a break from thinking about problems, from being productive?
  • Is it okay to be in the presence of God without seeking something from God?
  • Is it okay to just sit with God awhile without straining to hear his words or to speak your own?

I find it perfectly okay . . . to sit quietly, surrounded by God’s love, with no agenda.

Thoughts come in those 20 minutes—always—but they don’t have to be held onto (I rarely succeed at totally letting go, but that’s okay).

It’s not about becoming empty, but about becoming quiet.

It’s about being still to know that God is God.

All About His Presence

Now I see meditation as respecting God’s presence as more important than anything on my to-do list. It’s one way I show him I value his company.

Can’t we also be aware of his presence while we’re on the go? Of course! And in the other 23 hours, 40 minutes, of the day, we can practice that. Centering prayer or meditation is a supplement to, not a replacement of, our running conversations and activities with God.

But for 20 minutes a day (or so—I rarely make it 4 days in a row—I’m always a beginner), I need to remind myself that God is in control and that the world won’t stop spinning if I just sit with him to refresh my spirit. It slows me down and restores my soul.

And for those times in a doctor’s room or elsewhere when pain surprises me unexpectedly or when circumstances begin spinning out of control?

I can escape to calmness, even if just a little and for only a minute, into that spiritual space that I hold open for just me and God.

Genuine friendship belongs to those who can sit together in silence and still feel love.

* * *

My favorite book on Centering Prayer: The Path of Centering Prayer by David Frenette

path-of-centering-prayer

My favorite meditation app: Insight Timer

insight-timer

More Reading:

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

sharing with Susan, Deb, DawnDebbie,
CharlotteLyliCrystalRosilind, Holley

52 thoughts on “Is Christian Meditation Okay?

  1. Michele Morin

    I LOVE your admission that you are always a beginner. That’s true of me in every area of life. I’m thankful to be finding a greater comfort level in silence with God. And I’m finding that Scripture memorization is a great bridge for my brain out of the pressing here and now and into the presence of God.
    Michele Morin recently posted…A Story of WaitingMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you’re finding scripture memorization goes hand in hand with this, too, Michele. During my strictest 20 minutes, I try not to even recite scripture in my head, but any other time, it’s fair game to help calm my mind and refocus me on God!

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    First and foremost, I’m so glad you’re cancer-free!!!!!

    I’ve never heard it said before that an empty mind is dangerous…and would have been distressed to hear it in the past. My mind’s been empty for years, or so they say.

    Really, the mind can’t be emptied; it can, as you correctly point out, only be stilled. And only in that stillness can we find the strength we sometimes need to carry on.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/05/your-dying-spouse-311-frequencies.html
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 311 – FrequenciesMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Andrew. I was hoping you’d feel like chiming in here because I know you have more experience with this than I do. You’re right that we can’t empty the mind—even when I have tried, I can’t do it. ha. My mind is always noisy. :) But with discipline, I don’t have to always pay attention to that noise.

  3. Rachel Q

    Quieting our hearts and letting go of worries and anxiety is healthy. In our culture we rarely take time to quiet our minds, hearts and bodies to just receive. I try and daily do this in the morning as I prepare for the day. I sit at my kitchen nook table. The house hasn’t awakened yet and I’m quiet in the morning. It’s a good beginning to the day.
    I like how you phrase “respecting God’s presence as more important than anything on my to-do list. It’s one way I show him I value his company.” This is a good perspective.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Rachel Q recently posted…Mother’s Day On the Hard DaysMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It’s funny how calming it is to even just read about what you do in the morning, Rachel. :) It’s encouraging to hear other people’s practices. Thanks for sharing what is working!

  4. Nichole Gause

    Excellent thoughts on this subject. I think that some Christians have allowed the world to claim things that are from God or will advance relations with God. I think meditation is one of the things that we should claim back.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you totally, Nichole. We can claim back godly things instead of labeling them as bad just because they have become distorted elsewhere. Thanks for sharing this thought.

  5. nylse

    I think meditation from a Christian point of view is OK. Just being still and knowing that God is God is the essence of meditation. Just chewing over a verse like a cow chews his cud is the root word for meditation. Just using the Bible as the basis for my meditation and literally emptying my mind quiets and centers me.
    I see meditation popping up all over the place but it reminds me to meditate on God’s word, like David.

    Your title drew me in. Stopping by from #ChristianBloggerLinkup
    nylse recently posted…Reflections from the Book of JudgesMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing that definition, Nylse. It definitely brings a picture with it! :) A cow chewing its cud is definitely a restful image of accepting life as it is, and for our situations, of accepting God in this moment as he is.

  6. Trudy

    I love your thoughts here, Lisa. It’s hard for me to meditate very long as so many thoughts try to conquer my mind. But maybe I do it more than I realize – “to sit quietly, surrounded by God’s love, with no agenda.” Thank you for encouraging us to sit still with God. Love and hugs to you!
    Trudy recently posted…Cries for Children Who Are AbusedMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I’d guess you probably do “meditate” more than you realize, Trudy, just not necessarily calling it that. We can sit still with God anywhere, at any time, without anyone else even being aware of it. I love that God’s Spirit lives in us so that we always have that access!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Trudy! Neither the doctor nor I really thought he would find cancer, but I was still very relieved to hear the news anyway! There’s just something about being tested; once you take a test, you want to get a good grade. :)

  7. Valerie Sisco

    Hi Lisa,
    I think meditation has grown to have a bad connotation over the years as we associate it with Eastern religions but David in the Psalms meditated on God’s words and that’s a good example for us to follow. What quick (and brave!) thinking for you to cope with your unexpected test and it must have felt great to have it over with so quickly! :)
    Valerie Sisco recently posted…It’s the Dry SeasonMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Valerie; we’ve associated meditation with different things in our times but David talked about meditation thousands of years ago. I’m glad to see a resurgence of returning to that.

  8. floyd

    Glad that came out okay! In some ways that’s the best way to do it. Get it done ands not have to suffer through the preparation part of it.

    Since the Bible tells us to meditate on Him, it’s all good. I think it’s about Who we serve. If person serves themselves, thereby serving the enemy, that meditation time is going to be something quite different than us.

    I speed pray and recite scripture inside of MRI tubes…
    floyd recently posted…A VERY SHORT TIMEMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Floyd. Yes, it was definitely best for me to get the biopsy done that very day. Otherwise, I would have spent days worrying about it. ha. And I’m with you in those MRI tubes…time spent in them can facilitate some of our best devotional times with the Lord. David may not have known about that, but God knows.

  9. Ashley Davis

    Love this. I think it’s very healthy and beneficial just to slow down and be with God. I think Jesus displays this perfectly as he would often draw away from the crowds. Call it meditation or “just being still and knowing He is God”, either way, I think it’s something Christians should do, and that I know I need more of in my life.
    I think the word meditation has a negative connotation sometimes, like you said because of other religions, but I think we can take those principles and apply them to Christianity.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Right; we can call it whatever we will, but slowing down to rest with God in our bodies and our minds is beneficial. And if even Jesus needed it, how much more do we need it! Thanks for making this point, Ashley.

  10. Laura Rath

    Hi Lisa,

    “I quickly slipped into meditation mode, an awareness of God’s presence in this moment, in this situation, inside of me.”

    I really like how you described your meditation mode. It reminds me of Psalm 46:10 – Be still, and know that I am God. But, I usually struggle to describe what that means for me. Thank you for sharing this! (And so happy to hear the result was no cancer!)

    Blessings,
    Laura
    Laura Rath recently posted…8 Verses for When You Need to Remember God is Fighting for YouMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Laura. I was glad to get good results, and I only had to wait a few days. It put things into perspective for me though as I waited, as I thought of people who DON’T get good news. :(

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well, on some days, 20 minutes can seem like hours to me. ha. Rare is the day that it goes by quickly, so I understand what you’re saying, Sarah. I can’t imagine how people do it for hours a day. I’ll leave that to the experts. :)

  11. Jessica Penner

    I’ve heard it said once that meditation is more about focusing on one thing than on focusing on nothing. A couple years ago, reading in Psalms, I discovered the verse that says something about being quiet before the Lord on your bed, which to me speaks to this very thing. Just like you said, it’s okay to slow down and quiet ourselves before the Most High and simply focus on Him, and His presence.
    I know I don’t do this enough so thank you for your thoughtful post!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like the point you bring up, Jessica: it’s where we place our focus that matters. I find that I’m always focusing on something; the question is will I be intentional about it or not. I do want to be intentional about focusing on the Most High. Thanks for sharing!

  12. BettieG

    Dear Lisa,
    Thank the Lord for the favorable result of your test! And, what a blessing that God had already been preparing your heart to find His peace and presence in such a trying time! I have also been learning more about Centering Prayer, and Silence with the Lord. Even though I was used to meditating on God’s Word and Worshiping Him, I have found it a true discipline to silence my own thoughts just to be with Him. I have put the book you recommended on my wishlist–it sounds so helpful! Blessings to you!
    BettieG recently posted…Life InterruptedMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, we are blessed that God goes before us and prepares the way for things we don’t see coming! I hope that you will find Centering Prayer to be a beneficial practice for you. It has been for me, even though I don’t always see it in the moment. Like many things of God, often the fruit sprouts up in the most unexpected places.

  13. Debbie Kitterman

    Lisa, meditation is one of those things that can seem very out there, but I think it all depends on our motivation. If we go in with the intent to meditate on the Lord or to sit in His presence, then meditation is another way to grow closer to the Lord. Thanks for linking up with #TuneInThursday today. See you next week!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Debbie. Like many other things, I think meditation can be used for either good or bad, so we need to agree with God on how to use it for his glory!

  14. Beverley

    At church, every two years i have an interview with my Bishop so that i am able to have a temple recommend, which allows me to enter any Church temple around the world. One of the questions centers is (remembering it badly in my head) ‘do i affiliate with any person or institution that as beliefs contrary to that of the Church’ – at first i said ‘no’ but then i absent minded said ‘i meditate.’ There was a pause and my Bishop looked at me and then i said ‘like Buddhism.’ He wanted to understand more and i explained that i although i studied Buddhism i found the teachings had brought me back to Christ and meditation was one of the things that i had kept going afterwards, but it no way interfered with my belief in Christ, if anything it enhanced it. I received my temple recommend and my Bishop learnt something new. I find meditation useful, along with mindfulness too.

    I am glad your biopsy was negative.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love this story so much, Beverley. As you know, I enjoy reading books on Buddhist teachings for this very reason, too. They have helped my beliefs and practices in Christ, not hurt them. I wouldn’t have known that was possible a few years ago, but now I do and I am grateful. You were very brave in explaining it to your Bishop. I’m glad he kept an open mind and heard you!

  15. June

    Lisa! This same exact circumstance happened to me – I’m thankful yours wasn’t as painful as the doc said it would be. Mine, unfortunately, was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced (disclaimer: I’ve never had children!) to date! So thankful for the presence of God in our lives. The ability to become aware of His caring presence makes all the difference! I appreciated your comments here about “meditation”. Sometimes words take on a life of their own. Blessings on your weekend!
    June recently posted…Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 20:52My Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      A couple of years ago, I was mentally preparing for a different painful test that I’d had done a few years prior to that. I remember thinking that my meditation practice would make it less painful the second time around, but I was wrong! There are certain pains that I’m not capable of escaping. ha. I’m sorry you had such a painful experience, June. I suppose they can make us grateful for the easier times when we don’t have that pain. And yes, be grateful for the presence of God through ALL the times.

  16. Pam

    Thanks for the tip on the app! I, too, was taught much the same thing about meditation and have not done it formally and regularly as you describe, but I actually have done it coincidentally from time to time and simply called it “reflecting”. I have downloaded the app you recommended and will see what that might be like. Have a blessed weekend!
    Pam recently posted…Cease Striving…StandMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t it funny that sometimes how we label a thing can make it seem good or bad? But that’s another blog post, right? :) “Reflecting” is a great way to describe spending time with the Lord. Hope you find something on the app that will be helpful to you, Pam. I use it 99% of the time just for the timer, but now and again I will use one of the guided meditations for relaxation or sleep. Have a great weekend, too!

  17. Dolly

    Lisa,

    So happy, you don’t have cancer and that your practice of being in God’s Presence paid off when you suddenly needed it. It is about friendship with God and it is one practice among others. Wonderful post :-) Do you think your calmness made the procedure seem less painful? Thanking God with you for the “no cancer” report and that it was less painful than anticipated. Blessings :-)
    Dolly recently posted…The Four Components of Transformation? – 2My Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like to think that calmness helped the pain seemed less, but only God knows for sure. :) Either way, you’re right that being in God’s presence is always a blessing, and one that I often take for granted. Thanks for your concern, Dolly!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I always like hearing that others are doing this practice too, Jean. And I like hearing what your spiritual director recommends! :) I try to do a full 20 minutes or else I don’t do it at all. Not sure if that’s the best way to approach it, but for the most part, it’s what is doable.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      When I read stories about Buddhist monks and their brain scans, etc., it does show us how powerful the results can be when we practice meditation. We’ve only begun to tap into the many wonders that God made into our brains!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I had not heard either of Centering Prayer until about 5 years ago. Perhaps things just get renamed in different generations. :) But it was encouraging to learn that the early church fathers and mothers were practicing it hundreds of years ago, just under a different name. And of course there’s always King David and others even prior to that who were meditating on God’s words thousands of years ago! Thanks for sharing, Edith.

  18. Debbie

    My mind races like a hamster on a wheel. This would do me wonders of good! I love what you have written and YES it’s okay :) God bless you Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s how I feel about my mind, too, Debbie. Racing, racing, racing. If I ever want to slow it down, I have to be very intentional and prayerful about it, and then it’s only temporary. But a little is better than none, right? :) Blessings to you, friend.

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