In our fast-paced and busy world, we are constantly rushing from one thing to another. In this article, Priscilla shares about the spiritual discipline of Meditation and invites you to slow down and go deeper into God’s presence.
by Priscilla Chua
Meditation is an approach that combines prayer with the Scriptures. It invites you to prayerfully ponder the words and events of Scripture. This is done through finding and settling on a phrase, verse, word, or image, in which you can nest and rest. In meditation, you insert yourself in the Scriptures, reflecting on the Word. Instead of reading, questioning and dissecting the Word, you allow the Word to read, question and dissect you, and insert itself in your heart.
Meditation also leads to contemplation; a place of being near the heart of God, the source of peace, as you gaze at His face with pure delight and bathe in His love. Bernard of Clairvaus called it “an inner paradise of pleasure where vision of pure truth illuminates the eye of the heart”.
In my ten years of exploring and practising these spiritual exercises, I have been awed by His glory, humbled by His presence, comforted by His voice, and transformed by His Word. I hope you will explore and discover for yourself the pure joy of meeting God face to face.
Before the Prayer Begins
Set a time and plan for it.
Find a quiet place. Enter into the inner sanctuary of your heart.
Be alone. Be unavailable to others and fully available to God.
Find a posture that helps you to be at ease and yet attentive and reverent. Once you adopt a position in prayer, remain in that posture until the period of prayer is complete.
Stay focused when you have found the posture. Begin to relax and focus on your breathing. I find that focusing on an object is often helpful. A centering prayer “Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner” can be used to regulate breathing.
Prepare a Scripture for Prayer. It can be taken from the lectionary, daily devotions or sermon series. Texts can also be chosen from devotional literature, religious poetry, and small portions of Spiritual classics.
Beginning the Prayer
Consider how God looks at you. Offer all your will and actions to God and ask God for the intentions, desires, and actions to be according to His will. Tell God what you wish and desire in this time of prayer and meditation.
A traditional monastic practice founded in 4th century Christianity, Lectio Divina is a spiritual exercise of Scriptural reading, meditation and prayer. The following are the four movements.
1) Lectio (15 mins) Read the Scripture passage slowly, pausing between phrases and sentences until it sits comfortably in your mind; touching your deep and holy desires. For some, reading aloud or in a whisper may be preferred. You may need to read up to five times. Let the words echo and resonate in your mind, allow meanings to sink in, associations to rise, and images to surface. When this happens, you can go into prayer and not return to the Bible. Keep your journal away.
2) Meditatio (20-30 mins) Once you have heard the “word” that seems to be meant for you, start pondering on it. Why is the word for you? Be conscious of how you are moved by whatever that touches you. What is it about your life right now that needs to hear this word? How is God catching your attention? Can you identify with the word/character? Do you have trouble identifying with them? Some examples include shepherd, sheep, branch, etc. How does the word connect with your life experiences – hopes, despairs, desires, loves, hates? What do you discover about yourself in this process? You can recall past experiences and memories. The Lord speaks in and through life experiences.
3) Oratio – Colloquy (10-20 mins) Share as intimately as you can with God. We cry out in hurt, pain and frustration when the Word touched our pain. We may even whisper our confession and repent when God confronts us with sins. At times we can sing in praise and adoration when our heart is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.
4) Contemplatio (30-40 mins) Finally, release all your thoughts, feelings and intentions to God. There is no need to listen, reflect, imagine or respond. This is simply an invitation to come to the place of rest, near the heart of God and where the source of peace is. Take time to dwell in His presence and be sustained by His love. Gaze into His face and be bathed by His love. Simply enjoy. Conclude the actual prayer period by praying “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Reflection and Journaling
Immediately after prayer, ask yourself how the prayer was. What went on? What struck you? Where did you stay the longest? What memories, tangents and lanes did you look at? What was the feeling? Did you have deep or disturbing distractions? What did you share with the Lord?
You may like to find a word, image or phrase that carries the core message you have received. Take this into your daily activities and relationships. Let your reflection and prayer continue inwardly as new experiences deepen the word you have heard. Record what you have received from God.
Testimonies“Coming from another religion, my idea of meditation has always been emptying of the mind. Therefore, I had never dared to meditate. In this session (Prayer as Communion with God), I was introduced to various types of meditation. The experience of Lectio Divina is an eye-opener: using only the scripture to enter into the presence of God, interacting with Him and receiving from Him. I have been using this method ever since.”— Karen Wong, Sunday Worship Service“Feeling hungry, tired and burdened, I entered the room…found a friend there offering me a seat, some food and some space… A nice chat over the meal, I left my burden and left the room, rested, refreshed, renewed… I turned and looked at the load I left behind and instantly I knew, it will be taken care of.”— Daniel Wu, Saturday Praise Service“I had an issue nudging me for weeks but I couldn’t hear God clearly. During the GB retreat, we switched off our phones and refrained from talking to one another so that there were no distractions or expectations from others. I found God waiting for me to be ready so I could present to Him my real concerns. Then He cleared my misconceptions and I was at peace. I could take a walk in the garden far from home when I need it again.”— Hui Ling, Saturday Praise Service
Priscilla Chua is a Parish Worker with Chapel of the Resurrection. Her interest in meditation started when she was studying in seminary. She reads widely on Spiritual Exercises and practices them. She offers guidance and helps those who wish to explore Christian meditation and contemplation.
This article first appeared in Issue 8, August 2013 CHORUS Magazine.