Letter 38: The scriptural evidence

The question is often asked, where does it say in Christian Scripture that meditation is an acceptable way of prayer? The Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 4thcentury CE, whose life and ways of prayer were very much based on the teaching of Jesus, bring out in their sayings the value and validity of meditation, as John Main discovered in the writing of John Cassian, especially in Conference IX and X. But the essentials of the contemplative way, to which meditation leads, are clearly mentioned in Scripture: silence, stillness, interiority, no thoughts, emphasis on few words, repetition, solitude, alertness, staying in the present moment, one-pointed attention and union.

Here are just a few quotes to get you started finding your own:

Importance of silence:

  • Ps 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”
  • Ps 131:1-2 “Truly I have set my soul in silence and in peace. A weaned child on its mother’s breast even so is my soul.”
  • Zach 2 14-15/17 “Let all mankind be silent before the Lord, for he is awakening and is coming from his holy dwelling.”
  • 1Kings 19:12 “a still small voice”

Interiority/ indwelling spirit

  • Mat 6,6 “But when you pray, go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your father, who is there in the secret place; and your Father who sees what is secret will reward you.”
  • Luke 17, 20 21 “You cannot tell by observation when the Kingdom of God comes. There will be no saying, ‘Look, here it is!’ Or ‘There it is!’ for in fact the Kingdom of God is within you.”
  • 1 Cor 3,16 “Surely you know that you are God’s temple, where the Spirit of God dwells.”
  • Ephesians 1:17-18 “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-glorious Father, may give you the spiritual powers of wisdom and vision, by which there comes knowledge him. I pray that your inward eyes may be illumined.”

Few words/poverty of spirit

  • Matt 6:7-8 “In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard.”
  • Luke 18: 10-14 The comparison of the prayer of the Pharisee and the tax-gatherer: “O God, have mercy on me, sinner that I am.”

Ceaseless prayer

  • Thess 5:17 “Pray continually”
  • Romans 12:12 “persist in prayer”
  • Luke 18 “they should persist in prayer and never lose heart” (also Matt 11:5-11)

Importance of solitude

  • Luke 6:12: “During this time he went out one day into the hills to pray and spent the night in prayer to God.”

Alertness

  • Mark 13:33 “Be alert, be wakeful”
  • Matt 25:1-13 “Keep awake then; for you never know the day or the hour.”

Stay in the present moment

  • Matt 6,25 “Therefore I bid you put away anxious thoughts about food and drink to keep you alive, and clothes to cover your body. Surely life is more than food, the body more than clothes.”

Silencing of thoughts/leaving self-consciousness behind

  • Luke 9:23 “If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind.”

Humility, trust, one pointed attention

  • Matt 18:1-4 “I tell you this: unless you turn around and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Unity with God and with others/wholeness

  • John 17, 21 “may they all be one; as Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee, so also may they be one in us.”

Goal of prayer/meditation

  • John 10:10- 11 “I have come that men may have life, and may have it in all its fullness.”
  • Matt 6,33 “Set your mind on God’s Kingdom and his justice before everything else and all the rest will come to you as well”
  • Ps 116:8 “I will walk in the Presence of the Lord in the land of the living.”
  • Matt 5:3 “How blest are those who know their need of God; the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”
  • Matt 5: “How blest are those whose heart are pure they shall see God.”

Wishing you all a blessed, fulfilling and rewarding New Year!

Kim Nataraja