The goal of prayer is communication with God. Meditation and contemplation are states of focused attention. It is no mistake that God chooses to talk to us inside of our own minds. It is the most intimate communication possible.
As God said to me,
"Ron, how else was I to come to my children? I did not want to put my face in the sky. People would be frightened, and seek me out of fear. I want my children to seek me in the purity of their thoughts. It is a person’s most personal and individual characteristic. I desire the most intimate relationship imaginable. I live inside your mind, inside your body, inside your spirit. I touch you there, where you are you. I know your every thought. I feel your every feeling. I act in every action. It is why I hate sin. I see the pain it causes. I feel the injury my children inflict on themselves. I want all my children to feel joy. It is in freedom that they can love."
Many believers have abandoned meditation out of fear that they will connect with the forces of evil. But as Charles Stanley 1985 states, "This abandonment is at our great peril, because meditation and its scriptural application are of immense value if we are to listen accurately to God" (p. 93). Cho 1984 reports, "The way to hear God's voice is to get still and meditate. If we are too busy to meditate, we are too busy to hear His voice" (p. 129).
The Bible encourages meditation. Scripture uses two different Hebrew words to convey the idea of meditation, and together they are used fifty-eight times in the Bible. There is nothing wrong with meditating. It is a sound practice. There is nothing wrong with listening to God.
Many researchers have found that experiencing something in mental imagery is psychologically and physiologically similar to experiencing that same thing in real life (Klinger, 1980; Kosslyn, 1980; Neisser, 1976; Zenon, 1981). Imagery and sensory perception share much of the same physiological machinery (Shepard, 1978; Finke 1980). In meditation you direct and are in control of your own thinking. This is not God. This is you thinking to yourself, purposefully causing images or thoughts to form in your mind. This is the beginning technique that is encouraged by most Christian mystics, including St. John of the Cross (Kananaugh and Rodriguez 1964). You will reach a point where you turn over your thinking to God. Then God creates the images and words for you. This is communication from God, and it moves you from the state of meditation to the state of contemplation.
St. John of the Cross is known for his deep spiritual experiences with God. He taught beginners to use imagination and fantasy in their quest to communicate with God. Later he taught them to keep an empty mind, opening the total being to God. With the use of meditation, the seeker will draw closer to God. Holy images and words will form (Kavanaugh and Rodriguez 1964).
To try contemplation, sit or lie down in a quiet place, pay attention to your breathing, relax and quieten your mind. Ask God what He has to say to you today. Then open yourself up in every way you know how, every sense, and receive the communication from God. As you through the steps outlined in this book, there comes a point where God will take over your thinking. Human-directed meditation is left behind and God directs the journey. This is contemplation. Don’t be afraid. God will not take you too fast. He will give you just enough spiritual experience to keep you coming back for more. The more you return, the more you learn about yourself and God. God has many things to teach you.
In meditation, you use your imagination to visualize something that will bring you closer to God. You can use something sensory that will focus your attention like music, flowing water, a flower, candle, or sunset. As you become more proficient at meditation, there will come a point where you let your mind stay blank. Here, if you ask, God will take over your thinking. He will begin to encourage you, support you and educate you. Allow God to bring you along. Don’t be in a hurry. Everyone is different. No two people are the same. We all have a unique spiritual journey.
Take a pad of paper and a pen every morning and ask God what He has to say to you today. Let the writing flow. The words will come, a sentence, a paragraph, a few pages. You will sense when the message is done. Save these messages and go back and read them from time to time. You will see that everything that God says comes true. It might not come true in the way you thought it would, but it comes true.