Collegiate DiscipleMaker College Ministry

The Unwanted Stepchild of Spiritual Disciplines

The Unwanted Stepchild of Spiritual Disciplines

When it comes to spiritual disciplines, it feels like meditation is kind of the unwanted stepchild. Often, when people think of meditation, an image of Buddha appears in their mind: an overweight man sitting cross-legged with his arms folded neatly in front of him, eyes closed while he attempts to achieve Nirvana. That’s fine, of course, if you’re into the Eastern concept of liberation (called “moksha”). The followers of Jesus are not. We’re called by God in His Word to do something different, which is fantastic because what He’s calling us to do is literally guaranteed to bring us closer to Him. His word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), but you have to listen if you want to hear. Meditation is a great form of listening.

"Meditation is a great form of listening." -Jon Smith #collegiatedisciplemaker The Unwanted Stepchild of Spiritual Disciplines Click To Tweet

You don’t need to be afraid of this oft-forgotten and misunderstood spiritual discipline. It’s just as valid as the other ones, and it doesn’t mean you’re dabbling in forbidden practices of other philosophies. With a right understanding and a simple framework to follow, you’ll be well on your way to practicing the spiritual discipline of meditation and drawing closer to God in the process.

What does it mean to meditate on God’s word? 

Unlike Eastern forms of meditation that focus on emptying oneself and uniting with the universe, Christian meditation focuses on Scripture to hear the voice of God. Instead of Buddha, think of Mary, who, “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Instead of emptying yourself, the idea is to fill yourself: to take hold of a word, phrase or idea from Scripture and let it fill your mind. It’s considering Scripture deeply, thoughtfully reflecting on what it means and how it affects your life. 

How hard is it, really?

People sometimes feel intimidated by preconceived notions of what meditation is, but it’s pretty easy to do if you’re willing to take the time. Even better, you can find that time in quiet moments throughout your schedule. The drive into class or work, for instance, or in the shower, serve nicely. Thinking of it as a larger task that requires its own note on the daily calendar is often demotivating, a rookie mistake. There is no need to sit down and block out an hour. Let meditation be the distraction that fills the cracks in your day.

“Let meditation be the distraction that fills the cracks in your day.”

Jon Smith

So, what now?

It helps to have a method of meditating, a framework to help focus your thoughts. The good news here is that there are lots of methods from which to choose. The important thing is to find one that works for you. Here’s one to help get you started…

Pick a verse, any verse. (Some will naturally work better than others, and that’s alright. We’re in this for the long haul, learning as we go.) Start with a verse you know. Choosing something familiar, maybe something you’ve memorized or that has special meaning for you, can be helpful as you begin to build the habit of meditation into your life. Since we’re on the subject, let’s look at Psalm 77:12a.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Now, say the verse out loud with an emphasis on the first word. Ponder that a moment, then say it a second time with an emphasis on the second word. Continue with the third, fourth and so on until you’ve finished.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Et cetera.

See how each new emphasis brings subtle change to the meaning? Wasn’t that easy? As you work through the verse, think about how that subtle change brings to light something different and what it means to you… Congratulations. You’re meditating!

How long till I’m a pro?

Habits take time to build and time to break. Meditation is no different; incorporating it into your daily life and walk with Jesus will take time. You’ll experience both success and failure. Expect that. Don’t be discouraged by the days you forget. Don’t think you’ve got it down pat just because you got it going for a few days straight. Habits take time to form. It just so happens that this one brings you closer to God.

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Equipping You to Make Disciples of Collegians & Young Adults

The Collegiate DiscipleMaker is an online publication purposed to help equip you to make disciples among college students. Whether you are a student leader, campus missionary, college/young adult pastor, volunteer, or everyday church member, this college ministry resource is for you.

Our Team

We are people just like you – campus missionaries, ministry wives, young adult pastors, and more – who simply have a passion to make Gen Z disciples on college campuses and beyond.

Contributors:

Christina Boatright (Campus Missionary)

Paul Damery (Campus Missionary)

Reese Hammond (Campus Missionary)

Kyle Rapinchuk (Campus Missionary)

Jon Smith (Campus Missionary)

Jerome Stockert (Campus Missionary) 

Kale Uzzle (Collegiate Ministry Strategist)

Karin Yarnell (Campus Missionary Wife)

Editor:

Britney Lyn Hamm (College Ministry Wife)