Rhythms: Prayer & Meditation
Message by Michael Hearn
January 20, 2019
This is not exhaustive but only the beginning of a healthy Biblical understanding of these topics.
Meditation is both commanded by God and modeled by Christ in Scripture.
The Bible speaks about meditation some 58 times.
- Eastern meditation is emptying your mind, Christian meditation is filling you mind.
- Eastern meditation is an attempt to achieve complete passivity or disconnection. Christians meditation requires constructive contemplation.
- World meditation requires one to create their own reality, Christian mediation requires one to think on the reality of things that are true. Phil 4:8
Christian meditation is the deep reflection on the truths and spiritual realities found in Scripture.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul… Psalms 19:7
What is the purpose of meditation? To become more like Christ. To let the word of God work on, in, and through our lives. To saturate ourselves in truth and let the truth set us free.
Meditation places us in the path to experience God by transforming our lives and igniting a fire in our hearts for the things of God.
- Your desire will grow towards whatever you meditate on…
- Money, possession, girl or guy, drink or substance, etc.
- The item you are thinking about buying all day
How to meditate…
Read the word…I recommend a passage for a few days, at least…
- Think about different words in the text.
- Think about what the Word teaches.
- Think about what the Word says about God. How you should live, or its promises.
- Think about how the Word could be illustrated or explained. Let your mind dwell on the truth.
- Think about how you could apply it.
- Think about how it points to Christ.
- Think about what problem is solved by the text.
- Pray through the text.
- Memorize the text.
- See how many insights you can find in the text.
Meditation is thinking about what God says… listening to the word of God…listening is more than hearing… it is active…it is hearing to understand.
Mediation is listening to understand… in understating the response will be aligned with the Word… The response we will see is prayer.
- Isaac meditated and listened to God
- The psalmists meditated
- Eli meditated
- Samuel listened and meditated
- Jesus meditated
In mediation we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary in our heart.
This inward work transforms us.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
It is the mediation of the Word after the interaction with the word that gives the word the time to transform your life, to heal your mind, to restore your soul, to give joy in sorrow, to provide strength in the struggle, to give clarity to that which cannot be seen. To see God more fully and understand yourself.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. Psalms 119:98-99
Just like meditation helps you become more like Christ, so does prayer.
Prayer is how God works both in me and through the world.
Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.
Prayer’s purpose is to first change us and through that change we see others changed.
In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts back to Him. – Richard Foster
- The desires He has…the love He has…the will He has…just as we love Him back with the love He has given us. We begin to speak back those things He speaks… our heart begins to beat with the heart of God.
- Prayer is the vehicle that God uses to accomplish His will in this world.
- We work with God. We work with God to bring about the future. The future is shaped by your prayers.
- We change the world through prayer. As we pray rightly, God moves.
Prayer is speaking to God.
Prayer is talking to God.
Jesus expects us to pray:
Matthew 6:5 And when you pray…
Matthew 6:6 But when you pray…
Matthew 6:7 And when you pray…
Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this…
Luke 11:9 And I tell you, ask…seek…knock
Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought to pray.
If Jesus literally appeared before you right now and said, “I want you to start praying,” how would that change how you lived?
Colossians 4:2, continue steadfast in prayer…
1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray without ceasing…
Prayer is the way in which we communicate and commune with God.
Here is the truth, many, if not most of us do not know how to pray! The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” They heard Jesus pray and they knew they did not know how to pray and need to be taught.
How to pray? I am learning the key to learning to pray is to get past the filter of pretense and posturing. To get to the heart, our heart, and the heart of God.
The fundamental purpose of prayer is to deepen our intimacy with God.
My observation is the longer a person is saved, the more difficult they find it to pray.
When someone first comes to the Lord they just throw up everything… then they learn more and more about the Bible… they even may start hearing people pray who do not know how to pray… or they start praying without being in the Word and meditating on all the things they once had flooding through their minds and the prayer becomes “packaged”.
We become disillusioned as Christians… We say things like, “Why am I praying?”, “I feel like my prayers are hitting a ceiling” …”Is God really listening?”….”Does God really care?”, “Does prayer really do anything?”
Prayer should be both communication and communion and should produce a deep soul satisfaction.
Prayer is Learned
Luke 11:1 the Disciples ask Jesus to “teach us to pray.”
- Like exercise or a sport, or talents, the more you practice the more you learn and grow in how to pray.
- Have you ever been reading the Bible and after tried to pray? It is hard… The shift can be difficult.
Prayer is Intimate
Real people, real prayers, to a real God. It is time to get real!
- Prayer requires letting go of our guard
- Prayer requires intimacy. Vulnerability. Exposure. Just as Joshua cried for the sun to stand still. He risked being exposed. He cried out…he called out…He spoke from His soul to God.
- Intimacy requires risk.
Hear this… for our soul to go past communicating with God to communion with God requires intimacy…we expose ourselves…and only once we expose ourselves do we find the presence of God.
Think about the psalmist…the prayers are prayers exposing themselves…
- Prayer involves bringing more and more of myself into exposure to God…and receiving more and more of God into myself.
Intimacy always leads us to a place where we are not in control.
Our patterns of intimacy, or non-intimacy with other human beings are the very same patterns we bring to our relationship with God. Whether we are conscious of it or not.
The Word, meditation, and prayer are meant to go together.
People often come to me and say…”I pray, and I hear nothing from God… I read and I do not remember or understand.” The problem is not with them…the problem is not with the word or prayer. The problem is with the method.
Meditation is the missing link between Bible reading and prayer.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalms 1:1-3
To delight in something means to find joy…to see it at all times…in all hours of the day.
We meditate on the Word at all times, day and night…
The fruit of this meditation on the Word is stability, fruitfulness, perseverance, and prosperity.
Meditation lets the Word of God touch the most intimate and tender places of our heart. It leads us to places we are afraid to go or would rather not go. Prayer is our response to this work in our lives.
To focus on the Word, meditation, or prayer by themselves is to remove the power of the three together. They’re designed to go together…
Meditating on the word of God is like a bellow causing a fire to burn hotter and brighter.
The problem we have is not our memory or ability to engage the word of God… The problem is our method.
Here is how prayer works…
Read a passage… Read Psalm 1.
After we hear, read, study the passage, meditation allows us to take what God has said and think deeply on it, digest it, and then speak bad to God about it in a meaningful prayer.
We pray about what we’ve encountered in the Bible, NOW PERSONALIZED, through meditation.
Remember the primary reason we interact with Scripture is life transformation.
Now, we have something of substance to say in prayer as well as the confidence to know that what we are praying aligns with God’s thoughts.
Prayer now becomes more like a conversation with God.
God speaks to us through His Word…we meditate on it listening to it to understand… then we speak back in prayer.
We than go back to His Word to hear from him again, and the conversation continues… in fact, we will begin to crave when we can go back to the Bible because we want so badly to hear what He is going to speak next.
Now each time is fresh and new… each word we receive we chew on and talk back in prayer… this process transforms us…
- Mediation is the best preparation for prayer.
Begin with reading or hearing the word. Continue with meditation; end in prayer…Reading without meditation is unfruitful; meditation without reading is hurtful; to meditate and to read without prayer upon both is without blessing. – William Bridge
Scripture reading, meditation, and prayer can each be done by themselves. But there is an exponential power and safety when they are combined together.
The failure to linger is the reason why many fail to remember or find their hearts warmed and changed by the Word of God. This is the essence of meditating on the Word of God.
God doesn’t move mountains through people who have not been moved first…. let me explain….
Don’t seek the extraordinary, seek the ordinary. For in the ordinary the extraordinary is found.
When you look at men and women of God in the Bible, they caught the ordinary, daily, faithful practices of faith and in doing the ordinary the extraordinary found them.
So many people today want to see God do the extraordinary. I want to see God move like in Acts 2. I want to see God heal like in the Gospels, I want to see God move outside the box… All those things are great. But here is the truth you must understand. If you seek the extraordinary and do not practice what some call the ordinary you will never find the extraordinary. You will only find the extraordinary when you are faithful doing the ordinary for God takes the ordinary acts of obedience and when He decides makes them extraordinary.
The Holy Spirit is the one who really knows how to pray. He will take our prayers and present them rightly before the Father. You don’t have confidence in you, you have confidence in the Spirit to present them and God to answer them.