A bit over a year ago a friend of mine – Allison Gentle – penned a few words about her experiences with Christian meditation. Allison was a member of a Spiritualist church for many years before embracing the way of Christ and the alternative of Christian meditation. She has kindly agreed to these musings being published online which I reprint here as a window into one period of her journey.
My Biblical foundation for meditation is Mark 12:29-30, the first commandment of the new covenant: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
To me this means that our first duty is to our relationship with God, and that anything that fosters our sense of intimacy with God has to be a good thing. I can't develop intimacy in a relationship if I do all the talking. It's especially difficult if most of my talking is presenting my beloved with my interpretation of my difficulties and the difficulties of others and asking for assistance in the implementation of my solutions to those difficulties.
To me meditation is cultivating in my mind, heart and soul a state of receptivity which gives God space to make His presence felt, to work in me, to reveal Himself to me, to communicate His love to me. I know that He can do all this through Scripture, but I'm talking about a relationship with the living God who is active in the here and now.
Meditation on Scripture can happen spontaneously if we are in the habit of exposing ourselves to it. Sometimes a passage just leaps off the page at me and I know there's something important in it for me, so I read it over and over, until I find the connection. Often it's a question Jesus asked someone, and I realise God is using His Word to ask me that same question. Sometimes it's the whole story that parallels a stumbling block in my life and shows me God's way of working in that situation.
The ultimate altered state of consciousness is what is called in Scripture being "in the Spirit" (Rev 1:10) or "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:55) or "full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1). In all my years of questing after transcendental experience through new age techniques, I found nothing to compare with this. If that makes me a despised charismatic, it's worth it. Maybe that's what Nigel [a mutual friend] meant by referring to occasions when "God sweeps you off your feet, as happens every now and then."
I've found this state can take different forms, from one I refer to as "stunned mullet" where I'm of no use to anyone, to quite active states where I'm prone to a strange inspired decisiveness which in retrospect was sound.