Most of us who are married realize the blessing and necessity of taking time to just be with each other as husband and wife; whether it is a date, or a date night at home after the kids are in bed. As life gets busy these times are pressured, and all the more precious. But what about taking time out to listen and speak to God? We all understand the good and essential discipline of personal devotions, Scripture reading and prayer. We know the precious value of pursuing a life saturated with moments of prayerful communion with God. But what about finding another window of time here and there to get away from everything to meditate on God’s Word and commune with Him alone? John Willison (1680-1750) in his Sacramental Catechism gives us some good practical counsel. Here are a few (revised and contemporized) sections of his discussion:
Q. What is the Christian calling of meditation?
A. Meditation consists in getting away from the business of daily life and intentionally creating space and time for devoted, uninterrupted contemplation of spiritual realities as revealed in the Word. The goal is communion with God and spiritual growth. This is essential and very beneficial to Christian life. Scripture consistently describes meditation as a means and mark of Christian vitality. (Gen. 24:63; Josh. 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:97)
Q. What are some of the benefits of this practice?
A. It is tremendously helpful for other aspects of Christian life and calling. It will give better substance to our conversations, prayer and praise; it will make us absorb more as we read Scripture and listen to preaching; it will restrain us from sinning; it will melt spiritual hardness in our hearts, making us sincerely sorry for sin; it will make us love Jesus more; it will make our holiness stronger; it will make us more diligent and more enthusiastic and active in worshipping and serving God. (Psalm 19:7-11, 14; 40:1; 42:1; 49:3; 119:97,99; Heb. 11:15-16)
Q. Why do we neglect this very good practice?
A. (1) Because of our spiritual laziness, which makes us unwilling to pursue spiritual things, hard things, or things that stretch us beyond our comfort or complacency zone. (2) Because of guilty consciences that make us want to be busy and entertained rather than alone, quiet, and thoughtful. We’re not used to, and afraid of, being still before God. (3) Because our hearts love other things more than meditation on, and communion with God, and His Word. We have no problems filling our lives with other business, but tend to come up empty when we think in spiritual directions. Not only that but the natural tendency of our hearts and minds is to skip and wander from one thing to another. (Proverbs 21:25; Isa. 6:8-10; Jer. 4:14) (4) We have attempted it at times when we are either not yet fully awake and cogent, or overly tired and sleepy.
Q. So how can we even start to engage effectively in the practice of meditation?
A. (1) Ask the Holy Spirit for His help in creating a desire for, and pursuit of biblical meditation. (2) Decide to, and actively make lifestyle changes to do it. (Psalm 57:7-9) (3) Clearly and intentionally choose a verse/passage of Scripture, an aspect of God’s being, character, or activity, or other spiritual reality to meditate on. Focus your mind on prayerfully thinking about it, engaging your heart, and uniting this meditation with personal prayer and praise. (4) When you start to experience growth and delight in the practice of meditation praise and thank God. The Psalmist reminds us that ascending praises bring down showers of blessing. (Psalm 67:5,6) (5) Begin with praying for God to bless, end with thanking God and praying that the active memory and influence of this meditation would continue through your day. (6) Realize that you are always in the presence of God; He sees you, knows you, has freely provided everything you need for your salvation and life in Christ, and delights in those who delight in Him and His grace. (Eph.2:4-10)
An excellent tool I’ve found helpful in this pursuit are Journibles. Writing out a few verses by hand in a quiet room or outdoors is a great unplugged way to begin a time of prayerful meditation and communion with God.