"We have some idea, perhaps, what prayer is, but what is meditation? Well may we ask; for meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God; as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one's mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its ful and proper impact on one's mind and heart. [...] Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God's greatess and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us [...] as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy dispalyed in the Lord Jesus Christ" - J.I.Packer, Knowing GodWhy is it, I often wonder, that I have such trouble focusing on God, submitting my mind to him? Perhaps it is my pride, which slips around that key phrase "by the help of God" and tries to do it on my own. Perhaps it is simply that I have not been learning long enough and persistantly enough. Yet I long for it - the ability to let God dominate my thoughts, to let go of all the petty thoughts and concerns in my mind, to dwell on who He is and what he does.
All to often, I think, we think about our spirituallity the wrong way. Dallas Willard offers a good caution:
Prayer, like all of the practices into which Jesus leads by word and example, will be self-validating to all who will simpy pray as he says and not give up. It is much harder to learn if we succumb to the temptation to engage in "heroic" effors in prayer. This is imortant. Heroism, generally, is totally out of place in the spritual life, until we grow to the point at which it would never be thought of as heroism anyway." (The Divine Conspiracy, p 241)Ah, the mysterious and sometimes weary paths of our walk with God - as God, infinite in wisdom and mercy, seeks communion with us, finite and fallen humans. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus has in mind when he commands, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you". Oh, that we might learn this sometimes lost art of meditating, that every part of us - including our minds - might remain in Him!