Mindful Meditation

I turned 80 last year. In November I had a small stroke. I don’t need to be reminded that the body is decaying, but I will lose heart if I am not intentional about pursuing the renewal of my inner person on a daily basis. How do I do that? Second Corinthians 4:16-18 tells me I must look “at the things which are not seen.” Colossians 3:2 tells me to set my mind on the things above because I have been raised up with Christ who is seated at the right hand of God.  

Jesus said the great commandment (not a suggestion) is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mt. 22:37). God is concerned about what goes on in my mind—what I think. My thinking is an essential part of loving God.  

Meditation is an Old Testament word, but the concept is present in the New Testament, just using different words. Christian meditation involves filling your mind with God and truth and requires constructive mental activity. Biblical meditation is deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in scripture for the purpose of understanding, application, and prayer. Meditation involves thoughtful observation and careful consideration. Psalm 1:1-3 speaks of the person whose “delight is in the law of the Lord”(Psa.1:1-3). When we delight in God’s Word we think about it consistently. Meditation is absorption which should lead to application—being a doer of the Word.  

The Apostle Paul is very concerned about the thoughts that are in my mind. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul urges us “to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” He goes on to caution us “not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Paul’s writings reveal his deep concern that we have knowledge and understanding, not just in the mind, but that our hearts are shaped by the truths of God’s Word. These truths are a means of knowing the Triune God accurately and intimately and walking through life humbly with Him.  

In Philippians 4, Paul encourages us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. . .the Lord is near.” The next verse tells me how to handle anxiety, to which I am very prone. I need to confess my worry and tell the Lord my problem through prayer with thanksgiving. Then He promises to guard my heart and mind with His peace. I used to stop there, and found that I often had to go through the process all over again a few minutes later. What was I not doing or believing? The clue is in verse eight. I was to be proactive and choose to think about scripture truths—whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, any excellence, anything worthy of praise. There it is: let your mind dwell on these things.  

James is also concerned about our minds. He cautions us against being double-minded in James 4:8. Again, the danger of being friends with the world puts us at enmity with God. God jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell within us. We are to put “aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, and in humility receive the Word implanted which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the Word” (James 1:21-22).  

To be more consistent in biblical meditation, I have decided to use my large stack of index cards that I have written verses on and have memorized in the past, and renew my remembrance of them, one at a time. No hurry. Actor Anthony Hopkins was asked how many times he reads a script before doing a play or movie. He said 100-200 times. That convicts me of the wisdom for the Christian to read books and passages of scripture repeatedly. Hiding God’s Word in my heart and depending on the Holy Spirit to teach me, I hope to be continually renewed in the spirit of my mind. “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:9-16).

Both Peter (2 Peter 1:12) and Paul (Phil. 3:1) are willing to repeat truths even though we know them, so that we will “stand firm” in the Gospel. I have everything I need “pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises in order that you might become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3,4).