Oasis of Peace: Six Steps of Meditative Prayer
Step 1: Choose an appropriate location. Most people find that meditation is best in quiet, uncluttered surroundings, ideally away from where they work or spend most of their waking hours. A secluded spot outside can be especially conducive. Fresh air not only renews us physically, but it also illustrates God’s Spirit that is able to clear our minds and spirits.
Step 2: Take time to wind down. It’s impossible to immediately go from the affairs of a busy day into a state of deep meditative prayer. There needs to be a time of transition, a time of phasing out the material world. Sometimes it helps to spend a few minutes on a transitional activity, such as listening to soothing music, taking a short walk, or breathing deeply. As you try different things, you’ll find what works best for you.
Step 3: Leave your cares at the door. If problems are weighing you down, they’ll keep you from the peace you could receive from meditation. Take a minute or two (or as long as it takes) to give your present cares to Jesus in prayer. Be specific. Describe to Him what is troubling you, and ask Him to lift and bear it. Focus on God’s ability to bring solutions, rather than the problems themselves. “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus” (1 Philippians 4:6-7).
Step 4: Get relaxed. Several minutes of gentle stretches and deep breathing, followed by a relaxation exercise (concentrate on relaxing your face and neck, then your entire body, part by part) can help. If you’re feeling especially tense, a shower or a bath or a short walk in nature might help you relax. Or if you’re very tired, a nap may be just the thing, because as long as you’re exhausted, you probably won’t get much out of your time of meditation.
Step 5: Select a comfortable position. In meditation, the position of your spirit matters much more than the position of your body. You don’t have to sit a certain way—or even sit, for that matter—except of course you should be comfortable, so that doesn’t become a distraction. Whatever position you choose, it should allow you to maintain good posture, because this facilitates deep breathing and good circulation of the blood.
Step 6: Meditate. You’ve found an appropriate spot and wound down physically. You’ve put your problems and cares into Jesus’ very capable hands. You’ve disconnected from the affairs of the day, and are relaxed and comfortable. Now you’re ready to begin a time of focused meditation.
You might choose to focus on Jesus Himself, thinking about one of His attributes, or on some special blessing He has brought into your life. A specific thought from God’s Word can also be a subject for meditation. Reading a passage from the Bible, one of the “From Jesus with Love” messages, or some other short devotional material may help get you started.
Let your mind rest. Don’t analyze. Just relax and concentrate on quieting your body, mind, and spirit. Think of this type of meditation as being like learning to float in water. It takes that amount of relaxation of both body and spirit for God’s Spirit to take over and give you the “buoyancy” you need. If you struggle or try to poke your head up to see what’s happening around you, the balance will be upset and you’ll break your connection with Him. Whereas if you will just lie back, stop struggling, focus on relaxing every muscle in your body, and shut out the noise of the world and every thought except the one you’re meditating on, God’s Spirit will hold you up perfectly. It’s a wonderful feeling!
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“Peace I leave with you,” Jesus promised. “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you” (John 14:27). Let Him carry you away to the peaceful haven He has prepared for you.
Resting in Jesus brings comfort and peace that nothing can replace. It’s Jesus touching you.
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