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by Hugh Whelchel
How to Practice Meditative Prayer
In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them, giving oneself entirely to God, and abandoning outside distractions. The two main things that we are told to meditate on are God's word and God's goodness. Paul tells us, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8). We see the difference between the active and contemplative Christian life illustrated in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and heard his word, while Martha was distracted with much serving. Jesus said that Mary had chosen the best thing because she sat at his feet and was not distracted. Meditative prayer is exactly this, sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing his word. This is a wonderful example of the art of meditative prayer. We must allow time to let the Lord speak to us through meditating on him and his word in prayer.
Steps for Meditative Prayer
- Designate a quiet place. In a world full of distractions, we need a quiet place where we can allow God to speak to us. The most effective place to pray is where you are least likely to be disturbed.
- Give yourself 20-30 minutes. Many people only spend a few minutes each day in prayer. Very few people actually spend time in meditative prayer. It takes time to drown out the cares of the world, sit, prayerfully meditate on God's word, and then allow him to speak to us.
- Choose Scripture to prayerfully meditate on. Prayerfully select a passage of Scripture that means something to you. Let it either focus on the goodness of God, the promises of God, or the worship of God.
- Allow God to speak to you. This is the hardest part. Many people never hear the Lord speak to them simply because they don't allow him to. We need to sit and listen for the voice of the Lord. Samuel was open to hearing from the Lord (1 Samuel 3). He said, "Speak, for your servant hears."