Meditating on the Lord

1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. 3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. &em; Psalm 1:1–3 (NRSV)

What Is Meditation

Merriam-Webster defines meditation as: the act or process of spending time in quiet thought. Current science has shown that it is more than just quiet thought; it is the process of choosing quite awareness.[1] Meditation is defined by Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, as the process of focusing on breathing, getting distracted, then refocusing on it.[2] Researchers like Wendy Hasenkamp agree.

In an attempt to see what meditation did to the mind, Wendy Hasenkamp asked participants to focus on their breathing. If their mind wandered, they were to push a button and refocus on their breathing. While they were doing this, their brains were being scanned by an MRI to see the changes in activity.

The study showed that the mind, when switching to a meditating mode, used three different parts of the brain: the default mode network when the mind was wandering, regions of the brain that detected important or relevant information when the participants realized their mind was wandering, and the executive brain function took over to redirect the mind to focus on the correct thing. In addition to seeing the mind switch the areas it was using, participants who were more experienced at meditating were more quickly and completely able to switch back to the meditation when their mind wandered.

Researchers concluded that meditation allows us to practice the mental “muscles” that let us be the boss over our own thoughts. As we continually pull our thoughts of the daydreaming, wandering thoughts that take us wherever our emotions allow, we become stronger and faster at choosing what our mind focuses on. [3]

Meditation and Scripture

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. &em; Joshua 1:8 (NRSV)

Many places in scriptures we are commanded to meditate on the Lord, His ways, and His laws. The Old Testament promise for this is success and peace.

3 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you. &em; Isaiah 26:3 (NRSV)

Under the new covenant of the blood of Jesus, it is even more beneficial to focus our mind, as Apostle Paul reminds us, to find the peace of God that protects our hearts and minds.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. &em; Philippians 4:4–7 (NRSV)

Practical Meditation Steps

The process of meditation as described by Dan Harris or the research of Wendy Hasenkamp is about clearing your mind or about thinking about nothing. This is not what the scriptures say, but it is the first step of getting to a mental place where we can clear our thoughts to focus on who God is and what He’s done for us.

If your mind is full of worry and troubles, just adding the good thoughts in won’t reset your mind; it will only clutter it more. Focusing on something as peaceful and regular and necessary as your breath can turn off the “worry circuits” in your mind and create a quiet place to bring in the thoughts of praise for the Lord.

Prayer and asking passionately (supplication) are also a part of this mediation process along with the meditation habits of not worrying. When we’re coming to the Lord and focusing on Him, talking to Him about what’s troubling us is a vital part of letting go of the anxious thoughts. In fact, from the way Apostle Paul phrases it, it might be the only way to truly get rid of them, “Do not worry… let your requests be known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Living Every Moment in Meditation

In the busyness of daily life, it can be difficult to see how the mundane tasks tie in with serving and glorifying God. It can be easy to divide our actions and even our thoughts into separate categories: the God stuff and the life stuff. However, every moment we’ve been given is a gift from God, not something that we have to get through in order to get to the “real” ones.

Meditation offers a way to take a moment and feel connected with what we’re doing. It’s a way to bring a connection with God into anything and everything we’re doing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the cares of the world, or the demands of your day, stop and take one moment and find the peace of God. Still your mind through turning off your busy mind, and reconnect with God by choosing to focus on Him.

Protection of Heart and Mind

Apostle Paul says the result of this kind of focused mind “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7). This kind of effort isn’t simply a good idea or suggestion. It’s the mechanism that we’ve been given to protect our devotion to Christ. We are constantly being shot with by the flaming arrows of the devil (Ephesians 6:16). Our faith can be potentially damaged if we don’t keep our focus on Him and seek His goodness in everything we do and see.

In the parable of the sower, the seeds (the good news of Jesus Christ) that were strangled by thorns were the people who let the cares of the world take over and defeat the belief in Christ.

22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. – Matthew 13:22 (NRSV)

We need to have a tool in our spiritual belt that allows us to fight the thorns away. Meditation is a heavyweight in the fight of keeping our faith strong and our focus on Christ.


[1] “Psychology Today.” Mindfulness. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2015. <>.

[2] ABC News. “The Long Journey to Becoming 10% Happier”. Nightline. 12 March, 2014. Video. 09 May 2015. Notes from approx. 10:39. <>

[3] Hasenkamp, Wendy. “How to Focus a Wandering Mind.” Berkeley, 13 July 2013. Web. 09 May 2015. <>.

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