A Simple Method of Christian Meditation
(How to Pray, Part IV)
In this series, we have seen that Meditation on Sacred Scripture is the preferred mental prayer of the Church and the saints; that Christian meditation is fundamentally different from non-Christian meditation; and, we’ve considered how to choose material to meditate on. Today I’d like to share with you a simple method of meditation.
Christian meditation is not a method of prayer. Rather, it is one of the three expressions of prayer in the life of the individual Christian. Just as numerous types of vocal prayer have been sanctioned by the Church, so many good methods of meditation exist. St. Francis de Sales proposes a method in Introduction to the Devout Life. Lectio Divina is a particular method of meditation. When I was a member of the Secular Carmelites, we practiced the method found in Conversation with Christ by Fr. Peter Thomas Rohrbach.
Under spiritual direction, I am currently using the simplest method of all. It’s this method I wish to share with you. It does not require remembering elaborate steps. You can begin practicing it today. I hope you do, unless you already have a method that is working well for you.
Here is the method:
- Choose a quiet spot alone to pray.
- Focus your mind and heart on God.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the Scriptures.
- Begin prayerfully reading your chosen passage.
- When anything moves you, pause. Ponder. Talk to God about what you have read, praise Him, or silently lift your heart to Him in love–whichever you feel moved to do.
- When your conversation with God dries up, return to your passage.
- Repeat numbers 5 and 6 until your time is almost ended.
- End with the Our Father, another vocal prayer of your choice, or a brief word of thanksgiving.
Now, you’ll notice that even though I wrote this as eight steps, it’s very simple and natural. Virtually anyone can do it. Complete beginners or those transitioning towards simpler forms of mental prayer can adapt it to suit their needs. You don’t need a cheat sheet to make sure you’re doing it “right.” If you are getting to know and love Jesus better, listening to God through Scripture, and speaking to Him from the heart, you are doing it right! Your prayer time will be very personal and individual, different from any other person meditating on the same passage. Your relationship with the Lord is also unique.
I hope you find this method fruitful for your spiritual life.
Art: Praying Monk, Friedrich Overbeck, 1826; Meditation, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1885; both PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.