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Should Christians Meditate?

Updated: Feb 3

Doing a search in the Holy Bible of the word, “meditate” brings up passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament references are found in the books of Joshua and Psalms. Joshua was a servant of Moses (and of God), and God tells Joshua that he will lead his people into the promised land. This land is described by God as “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river the Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.” (Joshua 1:14 NKJV). God tells Joshua to be “strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to al the law which Moses commanded you.”

Now, before you conjure up images in your head of a person performing yoga sitting crossed legged with their hands in paganistic or white power positions, or of The Lion King’s Mufasa telling Simba that “everything the light touches is your kingdom,” let us explain something. Meditation from back then is not what is practiced today. In fact, think of biblical references of meditate as observing, pondering, and contemplating the things that we are instructed to do through the Holy Bible.

What Biblical Meditation Is

In Joshua 1:8, God instructs Joshua to meditate day and night on the Book of the Law (or the Mosaic Law). God explains that “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:9). In this verse, mediate is a reflection or observation of the Law. The Holy Bible reiterates this passage saying that the delight of man “is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2).

David said that when he thinks of the Lord on his bed, he meditates on Him during his night watches (Psalm 63:6). Also, Asaph (a Levite singer, see 1 Chronicles 6, 15, 16, and 29) said that he meditates on all of God’s work, and will talk of the Lord’s deeds (Psalm 77:12). In the book of Malachi, we see that a group of people who feared the Lord spoke among each other, and God not only heard them, but also listened to them, “So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” (Malachi 3:16).

From these passages, we can conclude that meditation reflects God, His law, and speaking of Him and His deeds. However, these passages are found within the Old Testament, and not the New Testament. So, what does the New Testament say of meditating? What are we to do as Christians?

Meditation According to the New Testament

Paul and Timothy became apostles after Jesus had ascended into Heaven. Paul was known as Saul, before taking his Roman name after becoming a Christian. Saul was a Pharisee that persecuted early Christians. You can read about the apostle Paul here. In the book of Acts 16, Paul met Timothy in Derbe and Lystra. Timothy’s father was Greek, and his mother was a Jewish woman. Christian brothers spoke well about Timothy at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to join him, and Timothy was circumcised due to the Jews within that region and the fact that people knew that his father was Greek. As these two men traveled through the cities, they gave people the decrees that they were to keep. These decrees had been determined by the apostles and the elders that were in Jerusalem.

Paul and Timothy contributed to several books in the New Testament. In Philippians 4, they give us instruction on meditating. According to verse eight, we are to meditate on, “whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy.” Paul wrote a few letters to Timothy, and 1 Timothy 4:15 expands on these things. Look at Paul’s guidance to Timothy:

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Luke 4:12-16

As a Christian we observe God, and the things that represent Him as described in Philippians These are just, noble pure, lovely, praiseworthy, of good report, and virtue. However, in the gospel of Luke, Jesus Christ tells us something differently. Namely, not to meditate.

A woman smiling as she sits in a grass field.
Photo Credit: Wix Media

What Jesus Said about Meditation

In the temple of Jerusalem, Jesus heard people talking about the beautiful stones and the donations within the temple. Jesus told them that there will come a time when “not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6). When the people heard this, they asked Jesus when that would happen, and what the signs would be that this is coming. These are signs that Jesus said would happen before the temple would be destroyed:

  1. Persecutors would lay their hands on early Christians and would be brought to synagogues and prisons.

  2. Jesus said, “Take heed that you not be deceived.” Many would come in Jesus’s name and Jesus warned them not to follow them.

  3. When you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

  4. Nation and kingdoms would rise against each other.

  5. Great earthquakes would occur in various places,

  6. Famines, and pestilences would also occur.

  7. Fearful sights and great signs from heaven would be seen. (Luke 21:8-12).

All these things happened during Jesus Christ’s lifetime, and after Jesus was crucified. Read the book of Acts to see unambiguous evidence of the first point. In Portico, the disciples Peter and John were preaching and the Sadducees “came upon them…And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day” (Acts 4:2 and 3). Apostles were imprisoned, and/or beaten (some of them to death).

Throughout the New Testament, we see numerous references and warnings of false prophets that existed back then and exist today. There were wars between nations and kingdoms during and after Jesus’s resurrection. During Jesus Christ’s lifetime, China went through two changes to its dynasty, and the tribes of Germanic territories defeated the Romans in Europe.

When Jesus was crucified, the Holy Bible tells us that a darkness fell over the earth for three hours. “Then the sun was darkened and the veil of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23:45). In addition, the angels had rolled away the stone to the tomb that held Jesus’s body. The gospel of Matthew describes that this caused a great earthquake. When Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Jesus, and Johanna saw this they told the disciples.

Archaeologists may have discovered evidence of famine in Jerusalem during the Roman siege. We know that the Holy Bible speaks diseases of the skin (leprosy) and blood in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Finally, The Romans would destroy the temple in Jerusalem and looted its goods in 70 AD. This was almost 40 years after Jesus was crucified. All the signs that Jesus spoke of had happened long before you or I were born.

Now that you understand that these things have happened and the temple was destroyed by the Romans, let us look at what Jesus said about meditation by revisiting Luke 21:12-17:

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives, and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.

Jesus is saying that when you are in such a position, do not overthink it, for He will send the spirit of wisdom to you when you need it. Hallelujah.

Did Jesus Ever Mediate?

When you search the Holy Bible for the word meditate, you do not see this action come up as Jesus performing it. However, as I mentioned before, think of the word meditate as observing, pondering, and contemplating the things that we are instructed to do. Even though there are no biblical references to Jesus Christ meditating, we know that He observed and studied the law. Mary and Joseph would take Him to Jerusalem when Jesus turned 12 years old to observe Passover as was custom.

We also know that Jesus would leave His disciples to be alone and pray (Matthew 14:23). Jesus was alone when He was on the land and then walked on water (Mark 4:45-52). When you pray, sometimes we think of something we read in the Holy Bible.

Based on these things I have no doubt that Jesus Christ would do observe, ponder, or reflect on God and God’s deeds, but I cannot prove this as it is not in the Holy Bible. As Christians, we should observe and speak of God, His Deeds, and Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 4:12-16. For if you do and you continue in them as Jesus taught and Paul expalined, “you will save both yourself and those that hear you.” Hallelujah!

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