Should You Meditate (as a Christian)?

The past few years there has been a massive groundswell of people looking to meditation to find peace and purpose.

  • Since 2012, the number of people actively practicing meditation has tripled.
  • More than 14% of adults in America say that have at least tried meditation.
  • Globally, it’s estimated that as many as 500 million people actively meditate.

And maybe even crazier than the amount of people engaging in meditation is the reported results. People that meditate, on the whole, report:

  • 60% reduction in anxiety
  • 60% increase in energy levels
  • 87% reduction in risk of being hospitalized for coronary disease
  • 80% users experiencing reduction in blood pressure
  • An increase in attention span after only 4 days

As a proponent of meditation (I reference meditation almost every day in writing First15), I get a fair amount of genuine questions from believers wondering if meditation is okay as a Christian. The question basically boils down to this:

“Should I meditate as a Christian, or could that be leaving myself open to influence from Eastern Religions, or even demonic activity?”

And hear me say, that question really is valid. It’s important that we’re careful with our minds and hearts. But inherent in that question, I believe, is actually a misunderstanding about the idea of meditation. In our lifetimes, we’ve typically understood meditation to be a practice of Eastern religions, and not Christianity. So it feels like we’re sprinkling in practices from other faiths into our own.

But the reality is, when you look at Christian history, meditation has been an important, vital part of our faith practice. Check out these verses:

 “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97

“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.” Genesis 24:63

“My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Psalm 119:148

And check out these amazing quotes from important Christian thinkers and leaders:

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” – C.S. Lewis

“An unschooled man who knows how to meditate upon the Lord has learned far more than the man with the highest education who does not know how to meditate.” – Charles Stanley

“When we find a man meditating on the words of God, my friends, that man is full of boldness and is successful.” – Dwight L. Moody

I honestly believe that the general uncomfortability I’ve found in believers with the idea of meditation, points more to a massive gap in our spiritual practice.

Our church services, more and more, are so filled with stimulation that most of us go home more exhausted than empowered. We’ve so increased emphasis on action, that it almost feels wasteful to take meaningful time every day to simply be still and silent. And our culture has us so inundated and distracted, that to be still and quiet for even 5 minutes feels impossible.

But given the state of our spiritual practice regarding meditation, there is also a genuinely massive opportunity in front of us.

Personally, engaging in daily meditation and contemplation has been the single most transformative part of my spiritual practice for the last year and half. I still love worship. I love God’s word. I love conversing with God. I love sharing faith and life with others. But in the last year nothing has done more for my connection with God, nothing has fueled my love and empathy for others more than taking time to meditate every day.

I genuinely believe that Christian meditation is the best antidote we have for the immense anxiety, polarity, stress, and distraction we exhibit as a society.

So if you’ve been wondering about whether or not you should check this whole meditation thing out, take my perspective for what it’s worth. Take two weeks, and meditate every day. And here’s a few tips to make the next two weeks meaningful:

  1. In the guided prayer section of First15, almost every day begins with an encouragement to meditate on a verse or principle. Set a timer for 5 minutes, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and with that verse in your mind and heart, simple be still with God. If your mind runs away, gently notice your distraction, bring the focus back to the breath, and be still.
  1. After you do your First15, take 5-10 minutes, whatever you’re comfortable with, and simply be still. Same deal, take a few deep breaths, and be still with God. Whenever you mind runs away (which it will more times than you can imagine), gently notice the distraction, refocus on the breath, and be still. One cool idea to help you from the wise Brennan Manning is this: When you breathe in, say in your heart the phrase “Abba,” and when you breathe out, “I belong to you.” And know that while you might not be able to put words to what God is doing, it will be more profound and important than words could describe.
  1. There are some great meditation focused apps you can check out. Headspace is one that is irreligious, and really helpful. My friend Drew Dickens has a great daily podcast called Encounter. Also, Abide is a cool Christian app that is really helpful.

Don’t allow fear or misunderstanding to keep you from a really important, historic faith practice. If you’re like me at all, you need more stillness and quiet than you’re currently getting. Also, if you’re like me, your time of meditation just might become your favorite part of the day.

*comment below if you have any questions, thoughts, or experiences you’d like to share! I’ll comment back with answers or thoughts as well!

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