We live in a very stressed-out culture that is constantly looking for ways to unwind and destress. Just about any doctor or health expert will tell you to do one thing: Meditate.
By meditate they mean an Eastern form of meditation: Zen meditation, transcendental meditation, yoga, Chinese or Hindu meditation, guided meditation: all of which have their origins in new age and Easter religions.
The meditation God was talking about in Joshua 1:8 differs greatly from Eastern meditation. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that participating in any form of meditation, apart from biblical meditation, is opening the door wide to the enemy.
I shared a little about this in my earlier post: Will God Protect You From Adult Coloring Books, when we looked at the adult coloring books with Mandalas and why this is a dangerous practice for Christians.
Any time we mix Christian discipline with any other religious practice we anger God.
In the Old Testament God said this:
When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. Deuteronomy 12:29-32
Throughout the Bible He calls himself Jealous.
He has commanded us to keep our worship pure and undefiled by the worship of other gods. You may argue, “But I’m not using these other forms of meditation for worship”. However, as Christians whatever we do in our life should be to glorify God, and if anything we’re doing does not glorify God – but, in fact, is used to glorify another god – we should immediately reject it and eliminate it from our lives!
This includes yoga, which many Christians engage in as a stress-relieving form of exercise. When you examine its origins and meaning, you can easily see why yoga has no place in the life of the believer.
However, like any other Christian discipline, biblical meditation should be part of our daily practice: speaking the Word, muttering it to ourselves, mulling over it, and imagining how our lives should fit in its context.
This takes the Word to a much deeper level than reading, studying, praying and even memorizing as we contemplate deeply what each passage actually means for us personally and speaking it over and over to ourselves.
How does Eastern meditation differ from biblical meditation?
1. Eastern meditation empties the mind. Biblical meditation fills the mind and spirit with God’s Word. Emptying our mind is actually a very dangerous thing because it gives the enemy room to fill it with his deception. However the Hebrew word for meditation actually means to speak or mutter, a practice that actually does the opposite of Eastern meditation. It fills our mind with God’s Word and builds our spirit.
2. Eastern meditation focuses on self: centering yourself, your inner self, self actualization, your breathing, physical feelings, and emotions. The enemy will do anything to get us to stop focusing on Christ. Furthermore, his ultimate deception is pride or elevation of self. Biblical meditation takes our focus off of ourselves and places our focus on Jesus Christ.
3. Eastern meditation seeks to relieve stress. The problem with our culture isn’t stress. Stress is only a symptom of a deeper problem: pride. Worry, fear, perfectionism…these all have their root in pride and all result in stress. But God wants us to daily walk in faith that brings us peace no matter our circumstance. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Christians absolutely shouldn’t turn to anything other than Jesus Christ for the peace that will help to ease whatever it is that has brought stress on in their lives!
4. Eastern meditation focuses on man being in control. Eastern meditation practices rely on self as the agent to bring peace, tranquility, and oneness with deity – the original lie: “You can become like God”. Biblical meditation reminds us God is Almighty and when He is in control we can be a complete peace knowing that His purposes will prevail. Eastern meditation dethrones God and puts fallen man in His place.
5. Eastern meditation is only escapism. By seeking higher levels of consciousness or altered states of consciousness you can escape your stress and enter new realms of oneness with deity. But the fact remains that once we have returned to our usual state of consciousness whatever it was that brought on the stress is still there. Biblical meditation doesn’t give us an escape from reality, it gives us supernatural strength through the Holy Spirit to walk through the “fire and flood” at peace knowing that God is in control of every situation. We don’t need to escape our troubles, by faith we walk through them , counting it all joy, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
6. Eastern meditation manipulates circumstances to bring peace. By using atmosphere, objects, silence, breathing techniques and more, people are able to enter a meditative state. It’s a manipulation of circumstances and atmosphere. However, the child of God can meditate on God’s Word whenever, wherever, no matter the situation or circumstance because we have direct access to the throne of God. Indeed, we are the temple of God and His Holy Spirit dwells within us. We never need to manipulate any situation to experience peace; we simply recall the precious promises of the Word of God and place our faith and trust in Him!
How to engage in biblical meditation
The Lord spoke to Joshua and said this:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9
The Hebrew word for meditate used here is hagah, meaning to speak, mutter, muse, imagine or plot.
Biblical meditation is the repeated speaking of the Word of God. It also involves imagining and using the mind to plan ways that we can implement the Word of God in our lives.
You do this by taking a passage of the Word and repeating it over to yourself, examining each word and imagining how it applies to your personal life.
As we begin to make biblical meditation a part of our daily Christian discipline; speaking, muttering the Word of God and imagining how we can mold our lives in concordance with it, we will see our lives transformed and the Lord promises tthat our “way will prosperous” and that we will “have good success”.
Do we believe the Word in this?