Centuries ago, monks began practicing Christian meditation by reading over verses in the Bible and then thinking about the truths in these verses. Often, they would say
the verses to God as a prayer. In this way, the monks learned to speak to God in prayer, and learned how to tell God their own thoughts and concerns. By meditating on Bible verses and praying to God, the monks trained their minds to always think about God. They called this "contemplation", and it helped them to have a close, loving relationship with God.
By following this method of communicating with God, the monks created what is called the "ladder of prayer". The rungs of the ladder included reading Bible verses, thinking about the truths in the verses, praying to God, and learning to think about God always.
In the 1900s, two types of Christian meditation were used. Using a mantra, or word that is repeated to help the Christian focus on God, was one type of meditation. An example of a mantra would be the word Maranatha, which is an Aramaic word for "come, Lord". Christians would also use what is called a Centering Prayer, which uses a sacred word or words to bring the Christian into God's presence. These two types of Christian meditation helped the people using them to take their focus off their own problems and to turn to God to hear what He had to say to them.
A woman named St. Theresa of Avila created five steps to help Christians focus on God when praying. These five steps are known as the five R's.
- The first R is Ready: this is the step in which the Christian realizes that he/she is in the presence of God. To be ready to continue in prayer, the Christian thanks God for the many blessings He gives, and confesses any sins.
- The second R is Read, and includes reading prayers, spiritual books, and the Bible.
- The third R is Reflect. In this step, the Christian focuses on what he/she has just read in order to come closer to God.
- The fourth R is Respond. It is at this step that the Christian speaks with God in an open and honest way about what he/she has been reading and thinking about. It is the most important step, as this is when God can share His wisdom and thoughts with the Christian.
- The fifth and final R is Resolve. This is when the Christian thanks God for what he/she has learned, and closes the time of prayer.
These different types of Christian meditation can all be useful in helping Christians to meet with God, come close to Him, and learn His truths. Christian meditation does not save a person from their sins; it is a tool that can be used by people who are already saved to build a stronger relationship with God.
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