Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV).

God designed us with the capacity to pause and ponder. He means for us to not just hear him, but to reflect on what he says. It is a distinctively human trait to stop and consider, to chew on something with the teeth of our minds and hearts, to roll some reality around in our thoughts and press it deeply into our feelings, to look from different angles and seek to get a better sense of its significance. The biblical name for this art is meditation, which is defined as “deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.”

Since we were made to meditate, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that world religions have seized upon the activity, and new schools try to make use of its practical effects, whether to cultivate brain health and lower blood pressure. Christian meditation, however, is fundamentally different than the “meditation” popularly co-opted in various non-Christian systems. It doesn’t entail emptying our minds, but rather filling them with biblical and theological substance, truth outside of ourselves, and then chewing on that content. For the Christian, the apostle says in our reading that meditation means having “the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (v. 16). Meditation that is truly Christian is guided by the gospel, shaped by the Scriptures, reliant upon the Holy Spirit, and exercised in faith. Man does not live by bread alone, and meditation is slowly relishing the meal.

Christian meditation is less about the posture of our bodies, and more about the posture of our souls. Our main pointers aren’t, sit on the floor with your legs crossed, or sit on a chair with both feet on the floor and your back straight, palms facing upward. Christian meditation begins with our eyes in the Scripture and our minds mind stocked with memorized Scripture. Perhaps we start with some broader Bible reading from which we select a particular verse or phrase that caught our attention, and carve out several minutes to go deep in it. Then, with intentionality and focus — often best with pen in hand, or fingers on the keys — we seek to better understand God’s words and warm our soul at his fire, and let it lead us into prayer and then into the day. In our restless and stressed-out society, it very well may strengthen our brain and lower our blood-pressure to practice the art of Christian meditation. But even more significant will be the good that it does for our souls.