Spiritual disciplines do not come easily to me. This might qualify as an awkward confession for a full-time pastor; however, God hard-wires each of us differently. Some saints possess a mystical bent that makes communion with the Holy Spirit as instinctive as breathing. For other, more left-brained, OCD types like me, spiritual disciplines require, well, DISCIPLINE.
During the past months and years, I have cultivated two devotional practices that have become increasingly important to my spiritual journey. For those who wrestle with making the supernatural feel natural, I recommend trying meditation and memorization.
Meditation is closely related to prayer. Disciples set aside time to meditate about the goodness of God. We create a space and place where our spirit can commune with the Holy Spirit.
A number of devotional books teach this practice. In a hectic and frantic world, the practice of meditation promotes peace in a harried, hectic world.
Psalm 1:2 describes the Godly person as one who meditates on God’s Word day and night. What are our first thoughts at the beginning of a new day? What are our last thoughts going to sleep at night? And for those of us at a certain age, what thoughts fill our minds when we awake in the middle of the night?
Meditation can be fruitfully combined with Scriptural memorization. This is a spiritual discipline often ignored in the modern church.
We have more access to the Bible now than ever. Although most use printed versions, we can also access multiple translations on the Internet or download it to electronic devices. This enables us to carry the Bible with us wherever we go.
However, memorizing Bible verses inscribes God’s Word upon our hearts and minds. Memorized Scripture becomes truly our own in a personal, intimate way. The spiritual discipline also enables us to emulate the Psalmist’s example of meditating on God’s Word day and night.
Consider this concrete example of combining meditation with memorization in a devotional exercise. Create a time/place to quite your mind/soul. Concentrate on your breathing—remember in both Hebrew (ruah) and Greek (pneuma), the same word means breath, wind, and spirit. Inspiration literally means to breathe in.
On each inhalation and exhalation repeat a memorized Scripture verse. For example: Be still and know that I am God. Or a memorized prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Another method is sometimes called Square Breathing. Breathe in. Hold the breath. Breathe out. Hold the breath. During each of the four phases, repeat a Scripture verse or prayer.
In the coming month, consider combining the practices of meditation and memorization as a part of your devotional life. I would love to hear about your experience. The two spiritual disciplines will bless your life.