Christian Meditation

Posted: January 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Everyone morning when I drive to Jackson County where I work in the glamorous job of government assassin and protector of foreign dignitaries(Ok, I drive a school bus), I listen to sermons or lectures.  Recently, I have been listening to a lecture series that has really been blessing me.  It is a few years old, but is timeless in it’s truths.  Dr. Tim Keller and the late great Dr. Edmund Clowney are lecturing on preaching Christ from the whole of scripture.  They are speaking to a group of seminary doctoral students who are hoping to take back some knowledge to use in their churches and ministries.  Along the way, there are many practical sessions where they discuss simply walking daily with God in close communion.  Keller and Clowney both say that the only way to truly see Christ in all of scripture is to be seeing Him in all areas of life already, having your thoughts saturated with Him.

One particular thing Dr. Keller discusses is Christian meditation.  He talks about his own quiet times and how he used to read his Bible, move onto prayer(which was primarily just intercession for others, and request of God for himself), and then he would go about his day.  He realized that this just wasn’t cutting it.  And I realized it wasn’t cutting it for me.  Without a true meeting with God, the day can seem very long indeed.  He then brilliantly explains how from St. John of the Cross, to Jonathan Edwards, to Martin Luther, to Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, among major evangelical figures in history, they all express these somewhat mystical, divine experiences with God.  Some describe them as lasting for hours!  Now, none of these people, especially the later ones, were Pentecostal.  None believed in adding to the word.  They all do point to a sort of Christian mysticism though.

This doesn’t mean that when I am driving my school bus, or I mean, protecting the Sha of Iran, that I expect to see “a divine and supernatural light” to quote Edwards.  Dr. Keller says that there are two phases of daily communion with God that we are not experiencing and therefore are missing that closeness to Him.  He explains, borrowing heavily from Luther, what he believes the four parts of a daily quiet time are.  The first is reading the Bible.  That’s simple enough.  The second is meditation.  Meditation will take a few minutes longer.

Luther says we should take a passage, such as, “Our Father who art in heaven…”, and go word by word, asking these specific questions as we go to each word.  1. How can I praise God for this?  2. How can I confess sin in this area? 3. What does this show me that I need? and then Keller adds, 4. How is Christ the ultimate fulfillment of this?

So taking the word “Our” from the phrase.  1. How can we praise God?  We can praise Him that it doesn’t say “My”, that it assumes that we are saved into a community.  That God has saved a multitude. etc.  2. How can I confess sin in this area? I tend to be a loner and have tended to forsake spending time with other Christians and being truly open with them.  3. What does this show me I need?  I need fellowship! I need to deliberately seek out a couple of people that God can use to grow me and mature me spiritually.  4. How is Christ the ultimate fulfillment of this?  Keller says this is much harder.  One thing to do here is to recognize that this word “Our” is impossible without Christ death.  That the “Our” refers to Christ bride, which He bought.

You continue to meditate over each word or phrase until God has softened your heart and prepared your for prayer.  Then you begin praying for the Kingdom.

The last stage is contemplation.  This is much more mystical.  This is that “divine experience” that the different writers speak of.  I have virtually nothing to offer here.  The meditation thing has been greatly beneficial to me so far, but I have not yet been knocked off my horse, so to speak, in contemplation of Him.  This is not something that we can prescribe a specific method to and expect it to happen.  I will probably post something separate on this soon, but until then, I hope you benefit from the meditation aspect of it.

As a last note, this works for me, and a couple of others. If it does not work for you, don’t feel discouraged. There’s a degree where pragmatism isn’t wrong here.  We are just attempting to put ourselves in a position for God to soften our hearts, if this doesn’t work for you, move on.  But, do give it a try.

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