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Time Out: The lost art of meditation

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Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

What comes to mind when you think of meditation? If it has something to do with sitting in a monastery, bored to death while your mind wonders, then you are pretty typical. We seem to delegate meditation to the great mystics of long ago, to the church fathers who were so spiritual they were more in heaven than on earth anyway. I got quite a surprise recently when I started to study what meditation really is. I found it’s much different than I originally thought.

While the Hebrew root can mean “to ponder,” it can also mean “to converse aloud.” In fact, it is often translated “cried out” and “voiced his complaint.” Psalm 77 is an example of Asaph meditating out loud. Read it and listen to his meditation. The New Testament equivalent is praying without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). Meditation, therefore, is speaking and listening to God by expressing what is on your heart and reflecting on what He says to you in the Word and by the Holy Spirit. It’s like a friendly, after-meal conversation with your wife when you feel close and aren’t in a hurry to end the connection.

Try talking to God out loud (this works best when you are alone and no one can overhear you!). It is a good discipline to put thoughts into words. We focus better and communicate more precisely. Try praying a Scripture passage. Read it out loud, think about it, read it again, talk to God about it and listen to what His Spirit tells you. Writing down your thoughts in a journal can help add to this experience. Sure, it takes a little more effort, but any good relationship takes effort to grow. The results are definitely worth it!

Scripture
Psalm 119:97, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray continually;”

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Reflect

  • When was the last time you had a good, long time of fellowship with God, where you just relaxed and enjoyed His presence?
  • What the main obstacle to your having these kinds of refreshing, rejuvenating times with God?
  • Take a few moments to meditate right now.
  • Share what God has taught you about meditating in the comments below. We can pass on some of these insights in future posts.

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Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!


Posted on May 18, 2008

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  • I have found the best times to meditate are when I am driving or mowing the lawn. Sometimes verses that I have read some to me and I realize something about what was really being said.

  • This past year I learned a beautiful meditation technique from an outdoor educator. Now I find my special outdoor “sit spot” whenever I need time to reconnect, ponder, and converse with God. At first there was so much mind chatter, but eventually it became easier to settle and focus. Now that I am more practiced at it, I find that having a devotional helps to facilitate the conversation. Erik Kampmann’s book, Trail Thoughts; A Companion for Your Journey of Faith, has been an inspiration to these conversations. I love being out in nature for it’s inspiration, healing and comfort. Erik’s book is a mature voice of faith and transformation.

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