In the recent years the word "meditation" has been used widely, including in non-religious contexts. Should we, Christians meditate? If yes, what should we do while meditating? S

What does the Bible say about meditation? Please answer with specific verses that state the right way to mediate?

  • 1
    This could be a decent quesion if you remove the bits about "should we" etc. and just stick to what have established Chritian teachings observed the Bible to say. I just deleted a ton on answers that didn't even touch on the Bible. If this question gets fixed to more obviously exclude opinion answers we can probably reopen it.
    – Caleb
    Sep 8, 2015 at 16:57
  • Deleted those "Should we" type question. Anyhow, This question is 4 years old. :-)
    – Benny
    Sep 9, 2015 at 15:36

3 Answers 3


Please excuse me for a large answer, in my opinion this question is really hard to answer in several words.

Althought there are many references to "meditation" in Bible, however, word "meditation" should be used very carefully here, to be not confused with meditation practice in eastern religions, such as Buddhism or Hinduism.

We Christians should listen to the Church, the only authority of faith on the Earth. And both Catholic and Orthodox Church warns about mixing prayer with any New Age practicies.

Catholic Church about meditation

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian meditation

"This document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stresses the differences between Christian and eastern meditative approaches. It warns of the dangers of attempting to mix Christian meditation with eastern approaches since that could be both confusing and misleading, and may result in the loss of the essential Christocentric nature of Christian meditation.

The letter warns that "euphoric states" obtained through Eastern meditation should not be confused with prayer or assumed to be signs of the presence of God, a state that should always result in loving service to others. Without these truths, the letter said, meditation, which should be a flight from the self, can degenerate into a form of self-absorption. The letter warns against concentration on the self, rather than on Christ, and states that:

Christian prayer, ..., the communion of redeemed creatures with the intimate life of the Persons of the Trinity, based on Baptism and the Eucharist, source and summit of the life of the Church, implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from "self" to the "You" of God. Thus Christian prayer is at the same time always authentically personal and communitarian. It flees from impersonal techniques or from concentrating on oneself, which can create a kind of rut.

The letter also warns that concentration on the physical aspects of meditation "can degenerate into a cult of the body" and that equating bodily states with mysticism "could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations."

A Christian reflection on the New Age, a six year study by the Roman Catholic Church on the New Age movement

The document states that for Christians, the spiritual life is a relationship with God. It criticizes Eastern meditation and states that all meditation techniques need to be purged of presumption and pretentiousness. It states that Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which "implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'you' of God".

Orthodox Church about meditation

Easter meditation from the point of Orthodoxy and Science

The pursuit of imaginary grace of peace leads to irreparable spiritual losses: "painlessness of a heart dazzles the mind" (St. John of the Ladder, The ladder of divine ascent 7:13). We can find a confirmation of this idea in the words of St. Peter of Damascus: "Lowliness of mind is a product of intellect, and intellect is a product of temptations". Optina elder Hieroschemamonk Makarios said that if we want to be glorified with the Lord, then we must suffer with Him, we must suffer with everything that He wills send to us.

Orthodoxy and the Faith of Future, monk-priest Seraphim Exposes that Transcendental meditation, introduced in USA by Maharishi, contains secret initiation as a pagan Guru worshipping cult

Christian meditation

A great article on that point in Wikipedia lists several practical approaches:

Within the Exercises, daily instructions include various meditations and contemplations on the nature of the world, of human psychology as Ignatius understood it, and of man's relationship to God through Jesus Christ. The Exercises is divided into "four weeks" of varying lengths with four major themes: sin, the life of Jesus, the Passion of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus. During each day of the Exercises, a typical retreatant prays with a particular exercise, as assigned by the director, reviews each prayer, and, following four or five periods of prayer, reports back to the spiritual director of the retreat who helps them to understand what these experiences of prayer might mean to the retreatant. The goal of the Exercises is to reflect upon their experiences and to understand how these same experiences might apply to the retreatant's life.

Her starting point was the practice of "recollection", i.e. keeping the senses and the intellect in check and not allowing them to stray. In her meditations, one generally restricts attention to a single subject, principally the love of God. In The Way of Perfection she wrote: "It is called recollection because the soul collects together all the faculties and enters within itself to be with God". She would use devices such as short readings, a scene of natural beauty or a religious statue or picture to remind her to keep her focus. She wrote that in due course, the mind naturally learns to maintain focus on God almost effortlessly. St. Theresa viewed Christian meditation as the first of four steps in achieving "union with God", and used the analogy of watering the garden. She compared basic meditation to watering a garden with a bucket, Recollection to the water wheel, Quiet (contemplation) to a spring of water and Union to drenching rain.

In the preparation part, one places oneself in the presence of God and asks the Holy Spirit to direct the prayer, as in the Epistle to the Romans[8:26]: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words." In the consideration part, one focuses on a specific topic, e.g. a passage from the Bible. In the affections and resolutions part, one focuses on feelings and makes a resolution or decision. For instance, when meditating on the Parable of the Good Samaritan one may decide to visit someone sick and be kind to them. In the conclusion part, one gives thanks and praise to God for the considerations and asks for the grace to stand by the resolution.

  • 20th century

The 20th century has also witnessed a new focus on Biblical meditation. These may be defined as: "the devotional practice of pondering the words of a verse or verses of Scripture with a receptive heart." Modern Biblical meditations may be designed to relate and connect the Biblical message to the modern world. Such Biblical meditations may correspond to specific seasons such as Lent with the meditation topic selected to interact with two or three readings of the Bible during weekdays or Sundays of Lent. The meditation sequence may begin by a summary of the Bible reading, then suggest specific ideas for meditation, then conclude with an appropriat prayer. Such meditations may also be designed not just for "strong seasons" such as Lent or Easter, but also for Ordinary Time. In the 20th century methods of Christian meditations have been taught using relatively new devotions such as the Divine Mercy devotion.


Should we, Christians meditate? Yes, We should meditate. Another word used is contemplation. Let us see if people meditated as per the Bible.

Psalm 119:97 - "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. " about the Psalmist himself

Genesis 24:63 - "He went out to the field one evening to meditate" about Issac

Other references: Psalm 119:148. Jesus meditated while withdrawing to a lonely place - Matthew 14:13

In the Church Age: Jeremy Taylor : Meditation is duty of all. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: He says He meditated since he is a christian.

As per 'Celebration of Disciple' by Richard Foster, the two Hebrew words used for meditation, together used 58 times in Bible. He defines meditation as ability to hear God's voice and obey His word and adds that 'it is that simple'.

what should we do while meditating?

The idea is to detach from the disturbances from the world around us and attach to God during the time of meditation and listen to Him. We should meditate upon a small portion of the scripture, not exegesis, but internalizing and personalizing it. 'Just as you do not analyse the words of some one you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the word of Scripture and ponder it in heart as Mary did, That is all, That is meditation" Dietrich Bonhoeffer. To avoid superficially going over many passages, take one small passage, single event, or a parable or a single sentence.

The book Celebration of Discipline gives a whole chapter on meditation and I recommend you to read it for complete understanding. Q&A site will not give option to describe all of it. This book gives multiple forms of meditation apart from biblical basis, difference between eastern meditation and related topics.


I think the confusion is that, for many, the idea of meditation is to clear or empty your mind in an effort to find peace or tranquility. Christian meditation is the opposite: filling your mind and focusing or concentrating on a specific subject.

The bible uses the word "meditation" in three places in the New Testament (Luke 21, Philippians 4, and I Timothy 4, KJV), and every one of those mentions it in the context of meditating on a specific subject or subjects.

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