10 myths about Christian meditation – debunked! | Phroneo


Are there things about meditation that put you off? Could it be that meditation is not what you think it is? Dive into t… (visit YouTube for more)


Why don’t more Christians meditate? One of the reasons is that there are many misconceptions about Christian meditation.

Obviously, I think meditation is pretty important for Christians because, well, that’s my whole channel. So I wanted to set the record straight on a few of these myths that Christians tend to believe about meditation.

And it’s particularly important that we correct myth number 10, so please stay with me.

Myth number one. It’s the same as Eastern meditation.

When we think about Eastern forms of meditation, we probably have in mind Buddhist or Hindu practices. The aims can include enlightenment, personal fulfillment, and freedom from desires. And common meditation techniques include mindfulness, chanting, breathing exercises, emptying the mind, and so on.

And you know, some of those things are actually pretty helpful. I don’t know if it’s shocking to hear a Christian say that. Like chanting, for example. If you look in the book of Revelation, chapter 4, verse 8, you’ve got the four living creatures, and it says: Day and night they never cease to say, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. That’s chanting!

But Christian meditation is very different from Eastern Meditation in one vital respect. The purpose of all Christian endeavour, meditation included, is to glorify God. Yes, we may and do benefit personally from the meditation, and yes, almost without fail, it leads to spiritual growth. But first and foremost, everything we do is motivated by our love for God, our obedience to Him and our natural worship of our beautiful Creator.

And because the end goal of Christian meditation is different, so the methods tend to be different. We don’t empty our minds, we fill them. We fill them with scripture, with appreciation of nature, God’s creation. And by thinking about His many wonderful attributes, His lovingness, His truth, His justice, His holiness.

So Christian meditation ends up looking very different to Eastern meditation.

Myth number two, it’s not necessary for a strong faith.

Forgive me for saying this: I get the impression that not many Christians meditate. And I include myself in this, I only discovered its value late in life.

I was really inspired by a sermon of Tim Keller’s. I’ve not been able to find the sermon again, unfortunately, so I won’t do the story justice, but it was something like this. He was a student at seminary, and in one lecture, the lecturer gave the class a single verse of scripture, and she said to the class, "You have an hour and a half to write down 50 things you notice about this scripture." And of course, this exercise is done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Fifty things! And so the time passes, and for the most part, students have been scribbling furiously. At the end, she asks the class, "Who found something really amazing about this verse that they’d never seen before?" And all hands go up.

"And how many of you found that amazing thing in the first minute?" No hands. "First ten minutes?" No hands. "First 30 minutes," still no hands.

And it turns out that almost everyone found their amazing thing, the inspiration, the life changing principle they’d never noticed before in the final minutes of that time.

The thing this demonstrates is that no matter how well we think we know Scripture, there is always, always something new and wonderful to be revealed in God’s Word, if only we’ll take the time to linger over it.

So no, maybe meditation isn’t essential for a strong faith, but it’s going to help, isn’t it?

Do you want a stronger faith? Do you want to know God better? Well, here in meditation, we find one of the paths he set out for us, which draws us closer to him and where he opens up his rich storehouse of divine wonder.

Myth number three. It’s only for monks or clergy.

Even if we don’t admit to ourselves that we believe this myth, we still probably associate meditation with monks or nuns. Those people who’ve specifically dedicated their lives to God’s service.

Well, I’ve got news for us all. Those monks, those nuns would be the first to say, "Meditation is for everyone."

There’s no reason for there to be a spiritual gap, if that’s what we think it is, between us and any specific religious order.

1 Peter 2 verse 5 says: You yourselves, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And in verse 9, Peter continues: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Peter’s writing to Christians, and there’s good reason to believe these were largely Gentile Christians. So if, as Peter says, we’re all God’s holy priesthood, you, me, church leaders, and regular members of the church, then meditation is without a doubt available to us all as a nourishing discipline and resource.

Yes, there may be particular groups who as a characteristic tend to spend hours in meditation, but they will tell you it’s worth it. It’s hard, but every minute is worth it. So why not us?

And if our lives don’t currently allow us to spend hours in meditation, then what about minutes? Every moment where we’re focused on God and on his word is so valuable to us and it blesses our Father.

If you’re not sure where to start, then why not try any of the two minute meditations on this channel? Watch one a day or several, and if you can, spend time afterwards personally reflecting on the verse.

Whether or not you happen to be a monk or a nun.

Myth number four . It’s about emptying the mind.

This misconception comes about, I think, because we use the word meditation to mean more than one thing. The meditation in yoga or Zen Buddhism often involves emptying your mind. And that approach might be okay to the extent that we’re explicitly waiting on God to hear from him.

But Christian meditation, biblical meditation, is all about filling our minds and hearts with the word of God. There’s no emptying here – only filling.

Joshua 1 verse 8: This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Fill your mind and your mouth, Joshua says, with the word of God. And Matthew 4 verse 4, and this is Jesus now: But he answered, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

We feed on his word when we meditate, we roll it round in our minds, we speak it aloud to ourselves, we repeat it.

That’s not emptying the mind, that’s filling it with 100 percent pure undiluted truth.

Myth number five. It requires special techniques or postures.

I suppose this is somewhat connected to the idea that meditation is for professional trained Christians, whatever that means!

The Bible doesn’t set out any particular place or time, position or posture for meditation. In fact, it tends to say "Do this all the time!" You might be on the bus, walking the dog, doing the dishes, playing football, lying in bed in those moments before sleep. In all these times and places, you can meditate.

Now for sure there are things that we can do that promote meditation. Like for most people it will be easier to meditate if you’ve made sure you’re not surrounded by screaming children and you’ve set down for now your own busy thoughts.

Many people find it helpful to do a short breathing exercise before we meditate. There’s really good solid evidence that this promotes a relaxed state of mind and body conducive to meditation. That’s why I tend to include a very short breathing exercise in the longer guided meditation videos on this channel. But it’s by no means essential or mandatory. If it helps you, go ahead. If not, no problem.

Ultimately, the only thing you need to be able to meditate is a passage from the Bible. That could be printed, it could be an audio book, it could be any of Phroneo’s meditation videos, which always have the Bible text in the description. That’s all you need.

One "special technique" I would recommend, though. If you’re going to meditate, come in an attitude of humble submission. We are intellectually feeble compared to our Creator. Let’s admit that and invite the Holy Spirit to teach us as we meditate.

Myth number six. It’s not biblical.

And in some ways this myth is correct. Buddhist meditation isn’t in the Bible. Transcendental Meditation isn’t in the Bible. But there of course, are different forms of meditation. And the Bible itself tells us to meditate on it.

We’ve already seen Joshua 1, verse 8, where Joshua tells the people to meditate on God’s law. In other words, on the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, he says to meditate on it day and night. And in Psalm one, verse two, it’s talking about a righteous man, and it says this: But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And on his law, he meditates day and night. So that’s more round the clock meditation recommended by the Bible!

In 1 Timothy 4 verse 15, Paul tells Timothy to "immerse himself" in all the spiritual training he has received and now practices. And in Philippians 4 verse 8, Paul says to the Philippian church: Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, 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.

Well, the Bible certainly qualifies as true, pure, commendable, praiseworthy, all those things. So we should think about it, shouldn’t we? That’s meditation.

When we meditate on God’s Word, we’re doing something specifically recommended by the Bible which causes us to grow spiritually, which pleases God.

Myth number seven. It’s too time consuming.

This myth is probably closely connected to the mental image we might have of someone in a religious order, quietly contemplating scripture for hours on end. And of course, it is possible to meditate like that, and it can be a deeply meaningful experience.

So I’ve heard. My own attention span isn’t that great, and it’s safe to say that in over 45 years of faith, I’ve probably never meditated for more than an hour at a time!

That’s one of the reasons I produce the two minute meditations on this channel. Any meditation is better than none, right? And if you can’t even spare two minutes, then play those meditations on double speed. I’ll sound like a chipmunk, but at least it’ll be over in 60 seconds!

But seriously, two minutes, that’s a great place to start. Two minutes a day, that’s about a quarter of an hour a week, or 12 hours over a year. Don’t you think that if you spend 12 hours meditating on the Bible this year, that will make a difference? And that’s a tiny commitment, isn’t it?

On the other hand, I should offer one word of warning. Meditation can draw you in. The more you look at the beauty of God and his word, the more you want. But this is a craving that can be satisfied fully every day, and you can never have too much.

So no, meditation doesn’t have to be time consuming. You can start with as much or as little as you want. The main thing is to start.

Myth number eight. It’s a solitary practice.

Do you have to meditate on your own? Now, admittedly, a lot of my meditation is private. It’s just me and God’s Word.

But it absolutely can be a communal practice. My first experience of Lectio Divina, that ancient, structured meditation practice, was in a small home group. In that group, we prayed together, we read the Bible together, we meditated in the presence of each other, and we shared our thoughts, our insights, our feelings with one another.

And that was amazing! We’re all so unique, aren’t we? And God can speak to us individually. So what you hear from God won’t be what I hear from God. And if we share with one another what we’ve heard, the blessings are multiplied. If I’m in a group of 15 people meditating and we share with each other, each person can receive not one, but 15 different inspiring messages.

I know you didn’t come to this video looking for maths, but 15 times 15 is 225. Instead of one person receiving one insight, that’s 15 people receiving 15 insights. 225 individual instances of revelation.

Yeah, I think I’m stretching the point a bit, but I hope this makes sense. When we meditate corporately, it can be a bit scary and intimidating. But if you’re in a safe place with people you trust, wow, what an anointed time it can be.

So meditate on your own or in a group or both. There’s no limit here.

Myth number nine. It’s only about silence.

If you think that meditation is just sitting in silence, I can see that might feel a bit uncomfortable. That would be like trying to perform a piece of music, having done no practice at all.

Silence can be part of meditation, but Christian meditation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For the most part, you’re going to be meditating on scripture or something inspired by God. A good solid hymn maybe, that’s full of great doctrine and admiration of God. Or maybe one of the famous creeds.

Absolutely, you can read scripture aloud when you meditate. It’s better if you can, because hearing the words of God in your own voice has more impact than reading silently.

Or you can play a piece of music, whether it be a worship song or a piece of classical music, anything that draws you closer to God as you turn your attention to Him and His truth. You might feel like singing to God, whether alone or in a group, and that’s good too.

And the meditation will often draw us to respond in prayer. And again, it can be really helpful to pray out loud, especially if you’re with others. We encourage ourselves and each other when we speak out our prayers.

So meditation can actually be quite noisy. And it can also be very quiet as you listen out for that still, small voice of God who speaks to you after the storm passes. Check out 1 Kings 19, 11 to 13 for that reference.

And finally, the one you’ve been waiting for: myth number 10. It guarantees mystical experiences.

Why do I think this is a particularly unhelpful myth?

The Apostle Paul talks about running the race with endurance. I don’t have much personal experience of this because even at my absolute fittest, I would conk out after 50 metres.

Still, from people who run marathons, I understand that there comes a point when your body is absolutely screaming at you to stop. You continue anyway. You’re running the race with endurance. Enduring something that at the time doesn’t feel that pleasant because you know a great joy awaits you. The joy of completing the race. Maybe improving on a personal best. Or just being able to say to yourself, "I made it!"

The last 20 years of my life have been a test of endurance. My wife and I became parents in 2004 and our twin boys had different disabilities and medical complications and we’ve run a particularly gruelling race to the point where we lost our son Morgan just three months ago. Our race continues with his brother James, though his needs are not so extreme.

There has been joy and so much beauty in this race, but there’s also been hardship and great suffering and we’ve needed to endure.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 5 verses 3 to 5: More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

If you’re coming to meditation expecting it to transform you utterly in the first two minutes, you may be disappointed. The Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You are not guaranteed a mystical experience every time you meditate on the Word of God.

But just as a seed can spend a long time underground before you see any growth, so the Word of God, planted in our hearts through the process of meditation, sometimes grows where we can’t see it.

That growth may be invisible, but it’s sure and steady. If you come to meditation openly and with humility before God, I guarantee it will change you for the better.

During meditation, you may sometimes have what you would call a mystical experience. And if you do, praise God! But remember that in almost every area of life, growth only comes when we put in the work and when we’re patient.

I studied law and went on to become a solicitor, a lawyer after six years of training and each year built on the previous year.

If, on my second day of my law degree at university, I’d said to my lecturers, "Why am I not a lawyer yet?", what would they have said to me after they’d stopped laughing? They’d have said, "Rob, it takes time, it takes study, it takes hard work, it takes discipline, and these things combined will turn you into a lawyer."

I hope you have mystical experiences every time you meditate. I really do. But I think it’s much more likely that instead you will see slow and steady growth with moments of great wonder and delight. And after a year, after two years, after 10, you’ll look back on that journey and say, "Oh my, that was truly worthwhile."

I hope that this rundown of 10 meditation myths has whetted your appetite or increased your appreciation of meditation. If so, why not subscribe to the channel or dive into more of the meditation content here? Have you heard any other myths about meditation that we should consider? Let me know in the comments.

May God bless you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.