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As a kid growing up in church, I remember being warned about meditation. Meditation was a weird and scary habit, something practiced by Hollywood actors who sat in a lotus position while reciting ancient Hindu mantras. Perhaps because of the fear that meditation is too closely connected to Eastern religion, I’ve rarely heard of a pastor encouraging his congregation to meditate.
The Bible does encourage God’s people to meditate on His Word, though.
When I was in college, one of my roommates had very long quiet times every day. He would pray and read his Bible for at least an hour every day, if not longer. Sometimes I started my quiet times exactly when he did, but I always finished mine much sooner. I would read several chapters of the Bible and then pray for everything I could think of. If somebody in my Bible study had asked me to pray for their sick poodle, I prayed for it. But for some reason, I always found myself running out of things to say long before my roommate did. I’d look over at him and wonder what was taking him so long. Did he talk slower than I did? Or was he genuinely a better Christian than me?
Every Sunday morning before I stand up to preach, I take my seat on the left side of our church’s auditorium. From where I sit, I have a fairly good view of the people in the congregation. While I know that I ought to concentrate on singing, I sometimes find myself watching the people around me during our worship time. (Don’t judge me! You’ve probably done it too!) Although some people don’t sing at all, other people sing enthusiastically. They keep their eyes focused on the worship leader or the lyrics, and they even raise their hands or close their eyes.
Sometimes, when I see a person singing praise songs with that sort of abandon, I think, “Wow, that person must really be feeling the goodness of God right now. She’s responding to a feeling that God has been good to her, so she’s singing wholeheartedly.” And quite often that’s true: sometimes we sing because we are in a joyful frame of mind, and we respond accordingly.
But that’s not always true.
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