The first message of the Spiritual Disciplines series was on prayer, and I was scheduled to write the devotion. I would have said at the time, that prayer was the weakest of the disciplines expressed in my life. I am more of a doer; the Martha much more than the Mary. If I can accomplish a task, attend a meeting, write an answer in a workbook, or listen to a message, I feel like I have accomplished something and moved the spiritual needle in the right direction. Even though I know it isn’t true, prayer never felt as productive. But at least it was something I knew. Prayer is all over the Bible. But meditation? Is that even Biblical???
Turns out it is and the word itself appears 19 times in Scripture. The first person we see meditating is Isaac in Genesis 24:63, just before he meets his wife Rebekah.
“He went out into the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching”.
What exactly was Isaac doing? He wasn’t at church. He wasn’t reading a scroll. The text doesn’t say he was praying. All we know is that he went somewhere secluded (the field) at a time of day when the world was still and quiet (evening). From Isaac’s example it would seem that meditating is simply seeking to be alone and undistracted; creating space to ponder, muse, and hear the voice of the Lord.
I might not have had anything to say about meditation had I not been convicted about prayer at the beginning of this series. I am in a season of change as my nest empties. I finish grad school on Friday and am preparing to enter the work force. Convicted about how little time I was devoting to prayer despite my fervent desire to know God’s will for what’s next, I declared a “news fast”. I know you’re not supposed to tell people when you’re fasting but it’s over in two days so I’m going to give myself a pass for the purpose of illustration.
It was during the COVID lockdowns that I discovered the podcast world. I’m late to the party I realize, but once I caught on, I fully embraced it. Everything felt newsworthy and urgent at the time, and I found myself transformed from someone who never watched the news to someone absorbing hours a day. Wherever there was dead space, there was a podcast perfectly sized to fill it. The Martha in me… the maximizer who prizes productivity and efficiency, loved the idea of squeezing more into my day.
Going for a walk…podcast. Driving to my internship…podcast. Putting make-up on in the morning…podcast. Cooking dinner…podcast.
I had daily news feeds dropping into my inbox and felt compelled to read ALL of them. And I never missed my favorite nightly news personalities. But if I was going to hear from God, I needed to make time to pray. Priorities had to shift. My news obsession had to go.
What I intended to do was create space for prayer, and to a degree, I did. But what unexpectedly happened is that I discovered meditation. My “news fast” consistently created space without noise or distraction. Over a two month period, I took walks without ear buds, road trips without playlists, and deleted over a hundred unopened news briefs. I had alot of time to think and in that space plans were formed. Dreams were born. Goals were set. A calling was confirmed.
Prior to this experience, I would have defined meditation as a form of yoga involving incense, soft music, closed eyes, and controlled breathing. But meditation is a much more accessible practice. You don’t need a zen garden or yoga studio. You just need to find a way to eliminate the noise of life; to make room for God to speak. We can’t expect to hear His “still small voice” over the constant background noise we pipe into our days. Create some “dead” space so that God can fill it with real LIFE.
~ Melissa Gibbs has been a member of LIFE Fellowship for over 10 years, is the mother to four boys and widow of the late JD Gibbs.