The practice of Christian meditation is not well-known in our Lutheran congregations and schools. We have tended to focus more on the intellectual side of our faith (the head) than on the spiritual side (the heart). But there is much to be gained through practising Christian meditation, which aims to connect us with the God-centred core of our being.
Significantly, Christian meditation, once well-established in the contemplative traditions of the church, is making a return among everyday Christians – including Lutherans.
But just what is Christian meditation? It draws upon a deep desire and willingness to enter into a more intimate relationship with God. It is not centred upon the individual meditator but upon God.
The Christian meditator seeks to be still and silent, to listen to God and to simply be in his presence. To do this, many sit upright when they meditate to focus without becoming drowsy and repeat a word or phrase to keep their mind from wandering. Many say the biblical word ma-ra-na-tha (‘Come, O Lord’) silently to aid their focus. Others prefer to repeat the name of Jesus, or to say ‘Lord, have mercy’. For those repeating ma-ra-na-tha, each syllable is said silently with even stress as the word is repeated slowly to help silence our thoughts.
Experienced meditators will do this for 20 or 30 minutes, but those new to the practice may want to start with 10 or 15-minute sessions. This can be done in groups, but is also done by individuals once or twice each day in a quiet place.
Many wonder what to expect when meditating. Do not expect anything. Trust the process. Many find that meditation opens them to greater awareness and attentiveness to God, others and themselves. Meditation is a form of prayer that assists us towards being continually transformed to be more like Christ, and less centred upon ourselves, leaving the ego behind.
I have been practising Christian meditation for more than four years and have been thankful for the journey upon which God has led me. I have experienced many transformations and experiences of communion with Christ, but all in God’s own time. I discovered that I have been carrying with me many layers of protection in the form of insecurities, attachments, fear and a lack of confidence.
By learning to be still before God and listen, I have found that Christ has gently changed me, bringing me not only closer to him but also closer to whom he wants me to be.
Kathy Worthing is a member of the WCCM state executive for South Australia and leads a Christian meditation group meeting at Immanuel Lutheran Church, North Adelaide.
How to find out more
For those looking for structure, advice or a group to meet with, a good place to begin is with the ecumenical WCCM (World Community for Christian Meditation), which has branches in Australia and New Zealand. For more information, go to www.wccmaustralia.org.au
This feature story comes from The Lutheran March 2021. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.