On my laptop,
a Google search using the phrase, “Christian Meditation” brought up 167,000,000
results in 0.57 seconds. This proves, if anything, that meditation is something
that Christians are interested in learning more about. So, this article is my “drop
of water in the ocean” and I pray that the name of the One True God be
HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
Going back to as early as the 4th century (301 AD – 400 AD) a popular form of Christian meditation called lectio divina was employed. Lectio Divina roughly translates to “sacred reading.” The meditation technique was comprised of four stages:
- Lectio (reading)
- Meditatio (discursive meditation)
- Oratio (affective prayer)
- Contemplatio (contemplation)
“In the lectio (reading) stage, one finds a passage and reads it deliberately. The next stage, meditatio (discursive meditation), is where one ponders the text. In the oratio (effective prayer) stage, one talks to God about the reading, asking Him to reveal the truth. In the final, contemplatio (contemplation) stage, one simply rests in the Lord’s presence.”
With this form of Christian meditation in mind, two things are especially noteworthy:
- The practice appears to be a fully lucid, intensely intellectual
- The exercise is performed by outwardly reflecting upon God and His
Word, not inwardly reflecting upon the self.
words, rather than the brand of meditation employed by Eastern religions, where
meditation is primarily meant to empty the mind; Christian meditation is
an emptying the mind of the lies and distractions of everyday life and the world
and filling it back up with worship and biblical Truth.
Rewinding back even further than the 4th century, we see a blueprint for meditation laid out in the Scriptures. There is around 33 verses in the English translations of Scripture that mention meditation. Not surprisingly, a bulk of them are found in the book of Psalms. Here are a few examples:
- I will meditate on Your precepts
- I will meditate on Your promises
- I will meditate on Your decrees
- I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds
- Keep this book of the law on your lips; meditate on it day and night
- I meditate on all Your works
- Your servant will meditate on all Your decrees
- I will meditate on Your wonderful deeds
- I will meditate on Your wonderful works
- We meditate on Your unfailing love
- I meditate on Your statutes
- I meditate on Your rules
- O how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long!
- I will meditate on Yahweh
I think you
get the idea.
gears here, momentarily. The Bible has a lot to say about states of consciousness.
Let me rephrase that. There are only two states of consciousness that the Bible
acknowledges, and God has a lot to say about both.
BIBLICAL STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS #1: AWAKE
Here are a few verses that paint a picture of what the wide-awake reality of a Christian should look like.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
I think you
get the point. When a Believer is awake, they are to be alert, vigilant, sober-minded,
watching. They are to beware, take heed, give ear, be careful, be on guard,
keep the charge, be of sound judgment, and be of sober spirit (to name just a
BIBLICAL STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS #2: AT REST
feature of the Christian faith is we have a God who designed, and observed, appointed
times of rest. Whether this is the appointed time of rest between evening and
morning, a weekly Sabbath, or a special holiday—our heavenly CEO was extremely
generous when doling out the PTO. (Sadly, many modern believers have turned
their nose up at this gift and have chosen to live overly medicated, caffeinated
lives filled with stress, anxiety, burnout, and chaos). Personally, I believe
if more Believers took the Fourth Commandment seriously, there would not be
167,000,000 internet links luring Christians down the broad path of Eastern
But I digress.
Let’s do a
quick word study on Alpha and Beta brain waves.
Brain wave activity between 7 and 14 HZ
Alpha state is considered a “relaxed” state of mind that allows you to be more receptive, open, creative, and less critical.
Brain wave activity between 14 and 30 HZ
Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta is a ‘fast’ activity, present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity.
Note the similarity
between the adjectives used to describe a beta state of mind with the
adjectives put forth in Scripture as to how a Believer is to walk through life.
And yet, there
is a preponderance of disinformation on the web where all sorts of self-appointed
gurus are trying to convince us that alpha waves are the preferred state of
mind. For example, Andrew Merle—a food and health blogger from Boston, MA who
works for a tennis shoe corporation, in his article, “How to Hack into the
Alpha Brain Wave State” writes:
We spend most of our lives in the beta state, as we rush through the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Beta is when our minds are moving fast, checking things off our to-do list, and bouncing from one thing to the next. While people can be productive in this state, the rapid mental activity in beta mode has been linked to depression and anxiety. When your mind is racing and you can’t seem to get out of a negative pattern of thinking, that’s when beta waves are taking over. You likely know the feeling.
Alpha, on the other hand, is characterized by being clear-headed, present, and fully in the moment. Alpha waves create a sense of peace and well-being in your mind and body. When people are in this state, they seem to exude charisma as their mind focuses only on the here and now. This is also the state when athletes and other performers are at their best — also known as being “in the zone” or the “flow state.” Unsurprisingly, alpha brain waves have been shown to boost creativity and resilience to stress, and reduce anxiety and depression. When your mind is free, peak performance and enjoyment is naturally achieved.
FAKE NEWS ALERT! Over-stimulation and over-busyness is the result of a disorganized, chaotic life where people have over-committed and overextended themselves, spend less than an hour a week in the Word, and who take little-to-no time off. This is a lifestyle choice, NOT the result of operating within the vigilance of our God-given beta state. Folks, who are you going to believe? The Word of God or a food blogger sporting a trendy pair of kicks?
In summary, Scripture recognizes only two states of consciousness: (1) awake and (2) at rest. When awake, we are WIDE awake (beta): eyes open, watching our backs, alert, and on the prowl. When we are at rest, we are either resting in the presence of God (alpha), or we are asleep (theta).
Brothers and sisters, I STRONGLY urge and exhort every one of you to REDEFINE meditation. There is a very fine line between “Christian meditation” and “biblical meditation” and that line is found within the pages of Scripture where we are given clear instruction on what it truly means to meditate. We must go back to these biblical definitions as provided to us by the psalmists. Meditation is not a “zoning out” activity, but an active, beta brain wave exercise where we are fixated upon and worshiping God, His mighty deeds, His excellencies, His works, and His love.
As followers of Christ, we must strive to be perpetually operating within the vigilance of the Alpha-and-Omega state—not the zombified alpha state!
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8