By Rev. Anne C. Seddon
Meditation is a word familiar to most of us. It might seem mysterious — even mystical. It may conjure up images of Eastern religions and gurus on top of a mountain. But it isn’t that at all. It is very much a spiritual practice in the Christian tradition and has been for centuries. And, if practiced under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it can be a very fruitful way to grow closer to God.
I think this approach will serve you well. There are a few basics for this ancient prayer form.
Prepare your location, schedule, and inspiration.
Find a quiet, private place. Allow yourself a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes of prayer time. Choose one of these or something else with special meaning:
A candle (optional)
A cross to focus on (optional)
A small cross to hold (optional)
Before you begin…
First and foremost, put yourself in the quiet space you have chosen. It should provide maximum privacy without interruption or distraction. Be sure to turn off your phone.
Sit so you are comfortable and relaxed. It is very important to be calm and at peace (as much as possible) before you begin.
You may ask: How do I achieve that with my hectic life?
There are various techniques for accomplishing this. Some people focus on a lighted candle until it’s the only thing
they see. Others focus on a cross or something else to settle their thoughts.
Personally, I like to do it by controlled breathing. I put my feet flat on the floor, close my eyes and breathe slowly and deeply for several moments, just focusing on the relaxing sensation of inhaling and exhaling. Once your mind is calmed and clear, say a simple prayer invoking the Holy Spirit to be present with you, to guide you into all truth and protect you from all error.
When you are ready…
Slowly and thoughtfully read the passage of scripture you have chosen or that has been designated for the day. Pay attention to what strikes you — what causes a reaction. It may be one verse or even one word. It may be the whole passage or one character in the story.
Sit quietly and reflect on that for a while.
Does it appeal to you or disturb you, comfort you or challenge you? Does it tell you something about God or yourself you may not have considered before? Share your thoughts and feelings about this with God, and then listen. Let yourself just be in God’s presence with the feelings and ideas that emerged. Let God work in you.
In closing, say a prayer of thanksgiving
At first, you may find yourself easily distracted by thoughts.
Don’t give up. It will be well worth the effort!
Above all, relax and enjoy this quiet time of sharing and listening as you deepen your relationship with our loving God. It is such a blessing!
who hast caused
all holy Scriptures
to be written for
our learning; grant
us that we may
in such wise
hear them, read,
mark, learn, and
inwardly digest them…
From an original collect by
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer,
appointed for the second
Sunday in Advent in the first
Book of Common Prayer (1549).
In the 1979 Episcopal Book of
Common Prayer, it is read on
the Sunday nearest November 16.
"We read, mark, and learn with
our minds. Inwardly digesting
requires your heart and soul.
Meditating on scripture can
guide and nourish your spirit."
- Dan Wells, keepingtheheart.com