This is part of an ongoing series book study which complements the Thursday and Friday morning Men’s book study on prayer. Read the other chapter discussions here. Read along with us! Last week, we discussed The Prayer to Rule all Prayers.
Keller has firmly differentiated between Biblical and unbiblical practices of prayer. Keller jumps into the biblical practices of meditation straightway on pages 145-148 with a very practical walk through Psalm 1. In this section, Keller allows us to see three benefits of meditation: Stability, Substance of Character and Blessedness and he gives us the idea that this can be a “pre-prayer” type of practice.
Focusing on meditation and our minds, he shows how the psalmist converses with himself about God. This section is then expanded on when Keller gives us the basic movements of meditation practiced by John Owen. Owen called it “fixing the thoughts.” Keller expands on this from pages 152-157.
Prior to the section on John Owen, Keller also writes about meditation and the heart. He then dives deeper into this concept, once again drawing on Owen in pages 157-160.
Owen’s three basic movements of meditation deal first with the mind, then the heart and finally with either enjoying the current reality of God or crying out because we cannot enjoy him.
Finally, Keller brings all of these activities to focus on the Incarnate Word. Our meditations can only make sense if they lead us to the Christ born, Crucified, Resurrected, and Ascended.
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you see meditation as a middle ground between prayer and Bible study? Why or why not?
- Is meditation something you practice? If so, has it always been Biblical in the ways Keller describes? If not, has Keller’s explanation opened you up to the idea?
- How is Biblical meditation different than Transcendental Meditation? (see pages 149-150) What do you think about churches that incorporate Transcendental Meditation into the practice of prayer? Why might Keller warn against such practices?
- Why do our hearts so easily forget we are justified by faith alone?
- On pages 152-157, Keller gives several possible ways to “Fix” one’s mind on scripture. Which spoke to you and which will you be able to put into practice?
- According to Owen, meditation means analyzing the truth with the mind; brining it into the feelings, attitudes, and commitments of the heart; and then responding to the degree to which the Holy Spirit gives illumination and spiritual reality. His third movement ends in either enjoying God or crying out to him when we can’t enjoy him. Share a time that fixing your mind and inclining your heart on scripture led you to one of these outcomes.
- How can anyone truly think intensely about the law of the Lord and not fall into despair?
On Your Own:
Keller writes on page 163, “He [Jesus] is the one who meditated so profoundly on Scripture that he virtually ‘bled’ Scripture, quoting it instinctively in the most extreme moments of life.”
This week, meditate on scripture passages listed on pages 162-164 and think what it means for our Lord to bleed Scripture. What does it mean for God to become man?