Lesson 03: Holy Habits 03/04: Meditation
Our world is obsessed with fast, isn't it? Since our world wears busyness like a badge of honor, it's countercultural to slow down. There is power in pausing. We must learn to swim against the cultural current by slowing down. How do we experience slow moments in a culture that demands hustle? By embracing the spiritual discipline of meditation. Meditation helps us hear God’s voice despite the noise, slow down when life is speeding by, and connect with God despite all the commotion. When our culture demands hustle, God suggests stillness.
Large Group Instructions
Tell a story of a time something went slowly that should have been fast.
EXAMPLE: Morning people confuse me. There are some people who spring out of bed, swing open their curtains, and celebrate the morning with pep in their step. Then there are people like me, normal people. I hit snooze a few times, limp around like a zombie, and moan until I get my first cup of coffee. Don't get me wrong. I love mornings, but that’s because morning time is when I usually get my best sleep.
One day, I woke up insanely early for flight, so I decided to pick up my coffee on the way to the airport. In a hurry, I pulled into a famous fast food restaurant's drive through. "I will have a large McCoffee," I mumbled into the speaker box. "Pull around to the first window," replied a distorted voice with a southern accent. Upon arriving at the window, they asked me to pull forward while they brewed some fresh coffee. "Fantastic, it will be nice and hot," I thought to myself as I parked in their holding area.
Two and a half minutes passed -- no coffee. Five minutes passed -- I began getting impatient. Ten minutes passed -- I had already seen a few dozen cars drive by with coffee in their hands. Finally, after twelve minutes of torture, I abandoned my car and walked into the dining room to investigate. It turns out they forgot about me. My rude response makes me cringe. I snatched the cup of coffee, complained, and slammed the door behind me. Well, I tried to slam it. Their hydraulic doors close slowly, so I looked more silly than angry.
Our world is obsessed with fast, isn't it?
I found myself frustrated because my order didn't appear instantly. We love fast food, fast cars, fast money, and instant gratification.
Since our world wears busyness like a badge of honor, it's countercultural to slow down.
There is power in pausing. We must learn to swim against the cultural current by slowing down. How do we experience slow moments in a culture that demands hustle?
By embracing the spiritual discipline of meditation. Meditation helps us hear God’s voice despite the noise, slow down when life is speeding by, and connect with God despite all the commotion.
When our culture demands hustle, God suggests stillness.
Psalm 46 is one of the best-known "songs of Zion."
These were Psalms written for worship services during pivotal moments in the nation's history.
Choirs and crowds would sing these words during both victories and defeats. Each stanza serves as a reminder that God is the ultimate source of strength and safety.
That's not just true for ancient Israel. We've even seen this Psalm spoken as a source for comfort in modern America.
President Obama famously recited this passage on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks while standing before a monument commemorating thousands of lost lives.
This verse isn't a call to take a holy nap. It's a challenge to connect to God's presence in the quiet.
David mentions that God is with us four times in this song (verses 1, 5. 7, and 11). God's abounding presence serves as a source of peace in times of panic.
This passage is particularly powerful when life is perplexing. These words serve as the perfect map for personal meditation.
The Psalmist is urging his readers to slow down and pay attention because God is here.
Pause. God is present.
The problem is obvious and the solution is simple.
Take some time to slow down.
Meditation allows us to calm our hearts, slow down our thoughts, and connect with God.
Take a break.
Find a quiet place.
Turn off the notifications.
And be still before God.
Your body needs movement, but your soul needs stillness.
Meditation happens when we take intentional time to press pause on our thoughts and listen to whatever God has for us in the present moment.
Here are three principles to guide us in the discipline of meditation.
Peace arrives in the presence of God. Thus, you need to strive to encounter His peace-giving presence throughout your day. You can do this through prayer, God's word, and meditation.
Meditation is not reserved for monks perched atop of misty mountainside. You can meditate in your car, while sitting on your bedside, or while making your morning coffee.
You can do this anywhere because God is everywhere. Peace is found within the person of Jesus.
Meditation helps you grow closer to Him.
It’s exhausting to constantly think about what happened in the past or what is happening in the future.
Meditation allows you to plug into the present moment with God. Psalm 16 expounds, "In the presence of God there is fullness of joy."
There is a reason it's called God's presence because it's a gift that's unfolding right now.
Most people think of the monkey from Lion King when they imagine meditation.
We imagine cross-legged gurus surrounded by smoking incense while humming, "Ommmmmm." Sure, that's a version of meditation, but it's not what we're talking about.
Eastern traditions are focused on simply emptying your mind. Whereas, in Christian meditation, we seek to empty ourselves in order to fill our hearts and minds with God’s truth.
Let’s make this principle practical. We have created a handout to help you add meditation to your routines. There are different methods and strategies, so we encourage you to dive in with an open heart and ready mind.
Since meditation is all about hearing from God, it's smart to start with His Words. This is when you approach the Bible mindfully -- looking for transformation instead of just information.
This discipline allows us to stabilize our stress reactions by intentionally connecting with the present moment. It brings us out of our heads and into our current surroundings.
Guided Meditation is all about inviting God to invade ordinary routines and spaces with His extraordinary presence.
Go ahead and dig into the handout and try all of them. Each of you connect with different styles because we are all different.
Small Group Instructions
TALK IT OUT Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.
Icebreaker: Introduce yourself and share this week’s highs and lows (the best part of your week and the lowest part of your week).
Q1: What does it mean to meditate as a Christian? Why is meditation a spiritual discipline?
Q2: Do you find it difficult to sit in quiet stillness? Why or why not?
Q3: Which meditation style most interests you: Scripture meditation, grounding meditation, or guided meditation? Why?
Q4: Do you have any questions about Christian meditation?
Application: What can you commit to doing this week to begin integrating meditation into your routine?
This reading plan includes:
Deuteronomy 8:18 Philippians 4:13 Proverbs 10:4 Romans 8:28 Colossians 3:23 Joshua 1:9 Proverbs 3:5-6
Do the following with each passage:
ASK– God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down and inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you today.
READ– the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.
REFLECT– on what grabs you. How does this passage personally relate to your own life and experiences?
RESPOND– to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered.
About For Ministry Resources Youth Series
FMR develops a monthly youth ministry curriculum that is free to all local churches. Each monthly release includes a sermon series, small group series, Bible devotional, and supporting graphics packs that are original, practical, and ready to use.