HOW many realize the importance of daily morning meditation? Since becoming a Seventh-day Adventist I have had occasion to speak to a number of people, both professional and lay members of our faith. Much to my surprise the reply to this question would be: "Well, how many of us actually know how to meditate properly and effectively, so that we can obtain maximum spiritual benefit from daily morning meditation?"
As a Roman Catholic seminarian I found that it was an obligation and a privilege to meditate one-half hour each day at 6 A.M. before attending mass. Since becoming an Adventist and being away from the climate of a secluded atmosphere, I often compare the strengths and weaknesses of both churches, especially in matters regarding sanctification.
With regard to the importance of daily meditation, the rector of the Catholic seminary said: "Your success or failure in the priesthood will be in direct proportion to the faithful carrying out of your half-hour meditation period spent with Christ in the morning."
Inspired Theologian Speaks
What a joyous surprise to find an inspired theologian in the Seventh-day Adventist Church who so strongly advocates the importance and necessity of what my many years in the Catholic university taught me. Ellen G. White says: "It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ."—The Desire of Ages, p. 83.
How to Contemplate
Some may ask: "How do we contemplate?" On the same page of this book the answer is given: "We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones." A very effective device for obtaining maximum results from your meditation is to re-create the closing scenes of the life of Christ. The gospel mysteries, being events in history, are re-created mentally for the sake of vividness. To get the most out of your meditation think of these events as though they were taking place in your presence.
What will the results be? "As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His Spirit." —Ibid.
Where is the best place to meditate? "If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross."—Ibid. Such a wealth of information in just a few sentences!
Able Authors or Meditation and Mourning
Again Ellen G. White speaks to ministers: "Your success as a minister depends upon your keeping your own heart. You will receive more strength by spending one hour each day in meditation, and in mourning over your failings and heart corruptions and pleading for God's pardoning love and the assurance of sins forgiven, than you would by spending many hours and days in studying the most able authors, and making yourself acquainted with every objection to our faith, and with the most powerful evidences in its favor."—Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 433, 434.
Notice these soul-searching words: "The reason why our preachers accomplish so little is that they do not walk with God. He is a day's journey from most of them... It is the carelessness and looseness of professed ministers of Christ that gives them so little influence. There are many professors, but there are few praying men." —Ibid., p. 434. Do we preach, but fail to pray? Is our influence declining?
Power Judged by People
Keep emblazoned on your minds the fact that our sheep imitate us, the shepherds, and that we do exert a tremendous and unknown influence upon our flock. We preachers are no better than our people. One can always tell the depth of the minister's spiritual life and his growth in Christ by looking at his people; they are the living epistles of his sermons, Bible studies, prayer meetings, Sabbath school lessons, and counseling sessions. The church members are the true barometer of the pastor's spiritual life. How wonderful it would be if every time Pastor Blank's name crossed a parishioner's mind he would think: "God is with that man!" What an influence we would exert upon Adventists as well as non-Adventists in our communities if such a label were attached to our name! Daily morning meditation will produce this influence.
Busier Than God Intends Us to Be
Ministers are busy people, and many will say: "This all sounds fine, but how can I possibly find time to meditate, with all my duties, obligations, and various church programs, projects, and goals! Where do I fit this time into my busy program?"
Taking time out for daily meditation is never easy. Why? The reason for this is that what counts, costs. There is a price tag attached to becoming saints in the ministry, and if we are too busy to become saints, then we are busier than God intends us to be. Don't you agree? And who is the loser?
Spoonful of Unction
Pastor Ravenhill mentions in his book, "We are tired of men in soft raiment and softer speech who use rivers of words with but a spoonful of unction. These know more about competition than consecration, about promotion than prayer. They substitute propaganda for propagation and care more for their church's happiness than for its holiness."—Why Revival Tarries, p. 102.
"A ministry that is college-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles," says Samuel Chadwick. And in order to be Spirit-filled we must take time to meditate.
As we are all aware, sanctity of life is the fruit of our will only so far as our will is strengthened by divine grace. God makes abundant provision so that we may never, if we so wish, be destitute of this help, which is acquired by daily meditation. Truly, fellow workers, the connection is so close between meditation and sanctity, that I believe one cannot exist without the other. Daily meditation is the very life blood of the soul!
The Man of Galilee brings these truths home to us by His frequent exhortations, and most of all by His example. He often retired into the desert places or went up into the mountain alone, spending whole nights in prayer. He frequently went into the Temple, and even when the crowds pressed around Him Jesus often would meditate openly with His eyes raised to heaven.
Since Jesus is our divine example, if He spent so much time in prayer and meditation, should we not as His ambassadors walk in His footsteps? He said: "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).
(To be continued)