For people just beginning to walk with Jesus and looking for the tried-and-true paths for getting to feel their faith, this week’s book: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in God, will set you on a good path. For anyone who has been wrecked by guilt-inducing Bible homework, either skip this week, or use the entries from a grace-filled perspective — the Bible is more about yearning than earning.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read Psalm 143
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
More thoughts for meditation
Everyone has their own body rhythms, mental habits and family instincts. So the best way to meditate is something we need to establish for ourselves. That being said, humans are not that much different in many ways and spiritual teachers throughout the centuries have come up with tried and true guidelines. We should probably try them all on before we start sewing our own clothes – something is likely to fit. Here are some ideas.
1) This first idea for a good rhythm goes with today’s psalm. Get up in the morning and listen. Most of the great examples from the past we love did this. If you have young children, it may be hard to beat them up (and you might be tired!). But not giving in to whatever gets in the way of spending time with God is what we are talking about. Perhaps you could set your alarm 10 minutes early and just sit up a little in bed and meditate there (you won’t be reading this on your ipad, you will be more like Isaac from a few days ago).
2) Meditate in the shower. It is a great, intimate environment. You are probably alone. You could rinse what needs rinsing away and be enveloped in warmth and newness.
3) Go to you special place for your daily time with God. All the suggestions for action that have been made this week would work best in a devoted time of quiet in a cordoned off area. You may need to make a deal with your spouse that you get a section of your little house to yourself for half an hour in the morning or evening.
4) Meditate as you drive or bike. Turn your commuting time into communing time. Some people like to put in their headphones and listen to wave sounds (or Cardi B) on planes and public transportation. Time on the conveyance might be good meditation time. But public places might be better for loving, even if withdrawing into your holy bubble is tempting.
5) Just close your eyes for a few minutes. According to this bio, “Susannah Wesley (mother of John and Charles) vowed, early in her life, to never spend more time in entertainment than she did in prayer and Bible study. Even amid the most complex and busy years of her life as a mother, she still scheduled two hours each day to spend with God. The challenge was finding a place of privacy in a house filled to overflowing with ten children. Her solution was to bring her Bible to her favorite chair and throw her long apron up over her head, forming a sort of tent. Every person in the household, from the smallest toddler to the oldest domestic helpers, knew well to respect this signal. When Susanna was under the apron, she was with God and was not to be disturbed except in the case of the direst emergency.” That’s more than leaning back from your desk for a minute to close your eyes and meditate! But you get the idea.
6) Meditate when you walk. Many people can testify that it is when our body is engaged and our mind bored or occupied with the sights that we get our best ideas and solve our thorniest problems. Jesus walked all over Palestine; perhaps he had a meditative as well as a missional purpose.
7) Meditate when you are lonely. If we ever get to the place where feeling lonely signals our need to turn to God, who is with us, we will be doing well. Because we will be undoing one of our deepest troubles: feeling alone and unloved. In the Old Testament the word for “sigh” or “murmur” became the word for “meditate” too, since we might appear to be talking to ourselves. You can see the two ways we can go when we are lonely: sighing in contentment or disturbed we are alone, meditating on our connection or murmuring about our isolation.
8) Meditate when you wake up in the night. This might be hard for us, since our anxiety might be what woke us up. So we fret, and then fret about being sleepless! Psalm 119:48 says, “My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Maybe you could put the slip of paper on which your wrote God’s promise to you the other day. Reaching over and touching it when you wake up might be a way to be at rest.
Suggestions for action
This week’s book suggests we use scripture for our basis for meditation with a simple method much like our 2PROAPT
Read today’s reading attentively, maybe aloud. If you can, read it in its larger context. Imagine Jesus saying it to you. Focus on all the words and try to understand what the passage means.
Let me hear of your steadfast love…
We all wake up as we wake up. It would be great if we feel loved when we do, regardless of our condition (since we are loved!). But at least we can listen for the reaffirmation of God’s steadfast love. Each day is a rising up. Listen right now.
in the morning…
What do you think is special about your morning, not just the psalmist’s?
for in you I put my trust.
We have a relationship with God. God trusts us with His unfailing love; it is what makes us humans. We trust God back, just like any other relationship in which we get that far. Tell Jesus you trust him. Or just tell him how much you trust him and he will tell you how much he trusts you. Work that out.
Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
This is a synonymous phrase to the previous sentence with a twist. The first was about being receptive; this one is about being empowered. Meditate on what’s coming next for you. You may not be able to see the entire road ahead, but you are likely to be empowered to take the next step.
Today’s reading might be a good portion to memorize and say every day upon waking for the rest of Lent. Meditation on specific sentences in the Bible opens up our minds to wonderful variations in them and depths both in the words and in ourselves! The famous teacher, Guigo (a monk in the 12th century) saw repetitious practice as a “ladder.” The four rungs were lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio (read, ponder, pray, contemplate). He said, “Reading seeks for the sweetness of a blessed life, meditation perceives it, prayer asks for it, contemplation tastes it.”