Excerpt from The Making Of An Ordinary Saint

Prayer is the interactive relationship we have with God about what we and God are working on together. Christian meditation is the listening side of this interactive relationship. God speaks and teaches; we hear and obey. To use the graphic phrase of Dallas Willard, God is “our communicating cosmos.” 

God uses various and sundry means for speaking and teaching. God speaks to us through the book of Scripture, the Bible. God speaks to us through the “book” of nature. God speaks to us through the action and activity of the Holy Spirit. God speaks to us directly, heart to heart. God’s “still small voice” can indeed be heard and understood. 

Jesus reminds us that he is the Good Shepherd and that his sheep know his voice. Jesus Christ is alive and here to teach his people himself. His voice is not hard to hear; his vocabulary is not difficult to understand. Meditation is the spiritual discipline that helps us to listen well and to hear correctly. 

At its most basic and fundamental level, Christian meditation is simply a loving attentiveness to God. Through the prophet Isaiah, God urges us to “Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”1 Listening is the key. Hear the life-giving counsel of Francois Fenelon: “Be silent, and listen to God. Let your heart be in such a state of preparation that his Spirit may impress upon you such virtues as will please him. Let all within you listen to him. This silence of all outward and earthly affection and of human thoughts within us is essential if we are to hear his voice.”2

Through meditation we are growing into what Thomas à Kempis called “a familiar friendship with Jesus.” We are creating the emotional and spiritual space that allows God to construct within us an inner sanctuary of the heart. Here, in this inner sanctuary, we learn to listen to God, “in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all-embracing silence,” as Catherine de Hueck Doherty put it.3

In Revelation 3:20 we are given the wonderful words of Jesus, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” These words were originally penned for believers, not unbelievers. You see, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and my heart. He is longing to eat with us, to commune with us. He desires a perpetual eucharistic feast in the inner sanctuary of the heart. Jesus is knocking; meditative prayer opens the door. The wise old apostle Paul reminds us that God is gathering to himself an all-inclusive community of loving persons, “a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”4 

This is staggering news! We, individually and together, are becoming “a dwelling place for God.” The Christian spiritual discipline of meditation prepares the way.

Starting Soon: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? Choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

Learn more >

Foster, Nathan. The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines. Baker Publishing Group.

[1] Isaiah 55:3
[2] Quoted in Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul
[3] Catherine de Hueck Doherty quoted in Gerard Thomas Straub, The Sun and Moon over Assisi: A Personal Encounter with Francis and Clare. St. Anthony Messenger Press. 
[4] Ephesians 2:21–22

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash