Meditation has some bad connotations in Christianity. It conjures up ideas of Eastern Mysticism and New Age Spirituality. It would probably surprise you to find that the Puritans offered a practice of biblical meditation that was vitally important for the Christian! Here Dave Saxton summarizes for us this Puritan practice, the vital need for us to recover this today, and the practice of it.
To quote Puritan Thomas Manton (p. 32), “Meditation is that duty or exercise of religion whereby the mind is applied to the serious and solemn contemplation of spiritual things, for practical uses and purpose.” Saxton would break this Puritan emphasis (and one of scripture as well, pp. 25-28) as 1) filling one’s mind with Scriptural and heavenly thoughts, and 2) affecting one’s heart with the goal of personal application. Therefore, in contrast to unbiblical forms of meditation (chapter 2), Saxton has us see that biblical meditation revolves around the Word of God and our application of it to our lives. Nothing could be a more biblical requirement for the Christian than this.
Saxton proceeds to discuss meditation from a number of perspectives including occasional (chapter 4) and deliberate (chapter 5) meditation. He addresses the how-to’s of meditation (chapter 6) and occasions when meditation should be pursued (chapter 7). Upon what to meditate (chapter 8), why to meditate (chapter 9), the benefits of meditation (chapter 10), and the enemies of meditation (chapter 11), round the book out. Finally, the rubber meets the road in chapter 12 in how to begin to develop the habit of meditation and concludes with the connection between meditation and personal godliness.
In much of evangelicalism today, we take a rather haphazard approach to Christian growth and application of the Word of God to ourselves. Here Saxton offers an important, biblical, and time-tested remedy in seeing this deliberate transformation of our minds by the Word of God which then changes our affections and motivates our practice. It’s what I would call a “head-heart-hand” approach to growing in Jesus Christ. It start’s in the mind, moves, to the heart, and transforms how we live. Too often, we seek to muddle up that normal process. Saxton helps by considering both God’s Word, and the Puritan application of it, to remind us of this normal and natural approach to gospel transformation in our lives.
We all need to grow in godliness, let Saxton point you to those “doctors of the souls”, the Puritan’s, to help you do this better.