How a Western megachurch pastor fell in love with Eastern meditation

muslims praying

A group of Muslims praying in congregation. The Muslim Times have the best collection for interfaith tolerance.  Suggested reading: Can You Chant from the Bible or the Quran to Bliss and Happiness?

Source: Religion News Service

By Jarrett Stevens, who is pastor of Soul City Church in Chicago and author of “Praying Through: Overcoming the Obstacles That Keep Us From God.” 

CHICAGO (RNS) — Years ago, Southern Baptist theologian Albert Mohler wrote an article warning Christians that Eastern meditation, which encourages participants to embrace silence and clear their minds, was “not a means to spiritual growth.” More than being just ineffective, he concluded, it was “dangerous” and “an empty promise.”

Coming from an evangelical upbringing, I can understand his concern. I’ve heard plenty of religious leaders make similar claims, casting meditation as some sort of boogeyman wooing Christians away from the faith with pagan practices. In the world in which I was raised, meditation was not on the list of approved spiritual practices. We prayed and read and sang and journaled. But meditation was not on the menu.

But a few years back, I began to explore the practices of silence and meditation — not due to some sort of spiritual curiosity, but out of spiritual exhaustion. Our church was only a few years old, but the process of launching it had taken quite a toll on my wife and me. We were simultaneously full-time parents of young kids and full-time pastors of a young church, and the combination had left us undone.

In an attempt to spiritually revive myself, I tried all the practices in the toolbox inherited from my childhood. None of them worked. In my search for something new, I stumbled on something ancient. And meditation has become an indispensable part of my spiritual life ever since.

Silence and meditation have been a part of most religious traditions — most notably, among Hindus and Buddhists — since their inceptions. For this reason, some Western Christians assume that these practices will somehow make them less Christian or open the door to harmful spiritual forces. What many don’t realize is that these practices have always been a part of our tradition, too.

The Bible uses the word “meditation” 23 times, the majority found in the book of Psalms. Ironically, one of my favorite verses has always been Psalm 46:10, in which God invites us to “Be still and know that I am God.” This passage has become the foundation of my meditative practice.

In the New Testament, we find Jesus practicing solitude and meditation as well. The Gospels regularly refer to him retreating to “quiet places.” Away from the noise. Away from the demands. Away to be alone and steep in silence with God.

Read further

shah_zia

Dr. Zia H Shah, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Suggested reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Meditation is For the Whole Day: The Right Recording to Play

Zikr Illahi (remembrance of Allah) and the human mind

Meditation is common across many religious groups in the U.S.

Doctor’s Orders: 20 Minutes Of Meditation Twice a Day – How about 10 minutes 5 Times a day?

Can You Chant from the Bible or the Quran to Bliss and Happiness?

24 Lectures: The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being

5 Mantras to Help You Become Calm and Confident

Seven Reasons Why European Agnostics and Atheists Should Consider Islam

What Can a Quarter of Unaffiliated US Population Find in Islam?

The Teaching Company Course: Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad

1 reply

  1. It’s often portrayed in media that people belonging to religions other than Christianity are not flexible and open to new ideas however this shows how even christians can be closed minded. It also proves the hypocrisy of some christians who believe that if people from different religions do not want to participate in certain things based off their beliefs, they are closed minded and should receive hate/criticism. But if you’re Christian it’s okay to discriminate. Why do we give so much power to a certain group and let them decide what is acceptable and what is not?

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