He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
From tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
Reflection: The Practice of Meditation :: Tea
By John Tillman
All analogies are limited, so it is helpful to consider many of them.
Yesterday we explored meditating on scripture through a visualization of running around a track. As users get used to this visualization, they can adapt the practice to visualize running through a park or leave visualizing behind and actually walk or run. Today we will explore a different contemplative visualization.
This helpful analogy of biblical meditation comes from Donald Whitney, in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. He describes the benefits of meditating on God’s word using the image of a tea bag in hot water.
The tea analogy is helpful to explain the contrast between Christian meditation and other meditative practices. In other meditative traditions the practitioner seeks to suppress conscious thought, seeking blankness or emptiness. The image of other meditative practices might be the water becoming more and more pure, empty, and blank. In Christianity, we seek to be filled and transformed.
Christian meditation does not seek emptiness, but fullness. We do not seek unconscious, impersonal revelation, but personal revelation from a conscious and communicative God.
Hearing the word, or reading it, or listening to a sermon is dipping the tea bag and removing it. There is some change, some transfer of the tea to the water, but not much. Meditation, however, is allowing the tea bag to soak in the water so that the flavor and power of the tea is transferred to and integrated throughout the water. The water becomes tea.
For the tea analogy, imagine yourself as the water, the scripture as the tea bag, and God’s spirit as the tea itself. Allow the scripture to soak in your mind, repetitively dip it in your thoughts as you would a tea bag into warm water. Listen in faith, believing that God will speak to you through his word. Allow the spirit and nature of God to steep in your spirit, entering your heart and mind through his word.
In meditation, the goal cannot be gaining a new insight for a sermon or Bible study group. It cannot be for a stunning exegetical analysis. It cannot be for a shiny trophy of biblical knowledge.
Let your goal be simply to sit, to steep, in God’s presence in his word.
Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Know this: The Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100.2
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.
Ezekiel 30 (Listen – 4:07)
Psalm 78.40-72 (Listen – 7:12)
Read More about Fear in the Boat :: Readers’ Choice :: TBT
No one has to go through so much anxiety and fear as do Christians. But this does not surprise us, since Christ is the Crucified One, and there is no way to life for a Christian without being crucified.
This devotion spoke to me in a moment where I almost forgot where I was. The words reminded me of the faithfulness of Jesus. I pictured myself in that ‘boat’, and Christ showing me who he is, I was on the Rock. — Reader, Azikiwe Calhoun
Read More about Praying Through the Stress of Work
The beauty of the psalms is they are not simply inspiration and instruction, but example. In hearing and praying through the psalms we find spiritual vitality in a world austere to the divine.
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