This morning we are looking at prayer and meditation. Meditation may conjure up images in your mind of yoga, someone crossing their hands and feet and saying “ohmmm” or Gregorian chants…but none of those are examples of what the Bible calls meditation. Here is a passage in the Bible that mentions both…
Phil 4:6, 8
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things
The Bible says we all meditate, or “think about certain things.” We let certain thoughts grab our attention, but we need to pay attention to our thinking. God says we need to think about what we think about. Paul writes to a group in Phillipi and says, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication.” The Bible notes that we give our attention to someone. We all talk to someone about our problems. If you are a worrier, or are anxious and fearful, who are you talking to when you worry? Yourself, right? You are telling yourself what might happen, will happen, or could happen.
Everyone can become Stronger by implementing two Habits: Meditation and Prayer
1. Meditation: Pay Attention To What You Think About
2. Prayer: Give Attention to Who You’re Talking To
Let’s look at these two Habits. The first is Meditation.
1. Meditation: Pay Attention To What You Think About
If meditation is simply paying attention to what you think about, I’d suggest that most people don’t know what they think about. Their heart’s true motivations and mind’s unconscious thoughts stay beneath the surface. Therefore thoughts, circumstances and lies grab our attention without us thinking through them. Meditation is moving from allowing thoughts to grab your attention to a active process of paying attention.
Thoughts Grabbing Our Attention
We say, “That grabbed my attention.” When something “grabs” our attention, it affects our direction. But there is always some thought that drives our decision, not something. We can see it in destructive things. When our 20-year-old starts dating someone who is not a good influence, it changes the directions and destination of their lives. But he/she is not thinking about direction or destination, just the fact that this girl or guy GRABBED their attention. As parents we can see that they are not thinking clearly, or at all…
Don’t they realize what they are thinking? We even say, “What were you thinking…?” And when the relationship ends badly, they might even turn to a friend and sat, “What was I thinking?!”
When we see a family member get into debt, into drugs, into temptation, we can always trace that purchase, a pattern, a bad influence, or a substance to some thought that GRABBED their attention. They began to Think about something. They thought, “This won’t hurt,” “I am only hurting myself,” “Divorce will be better for the kids,” “I deserve to be happy.” “I deserve this house even though I can’t afford it.” Bottom line: Their thinking drove their decisions. Some thought grabbed their attention and impacted the direction of their life.
My life’s direction has been littered with this principle. I was in college and performing some magic tricks for a gathering of college students from my floor and a girls’ floor. As I looked into the audience, Beth Gilbert “GRABBED” my attention. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I’d often go the dinner twice to try to “catch her.” That thought changed by direction. We went to dinner, took a walk around Chicago and the Direction of my life has NEVER been the same. Beth and I went to a conference in Chicago in 1995 at Willow Creek. A pastor named Bill Hybels GRABBED my attention. He dropped a thought into my mind that shaped my whole career. He spoke of churches that were creative, relevant, excellent, and authentic. He spoke of creating churches that were compelling to churched and unchurched people, convinced and unconvinced people, and that changed the direction and destination of my career. That thought has shaped our church at Horizon. The founding elders were also grabbed by what Willow Creek was doing at that time, but they wanted even more. Therefore we have two different environments on Sundays. Our first service is different from the 2nd and 3rd. If you like communion, prayer, worship, guided prayer in an extremely relevant way, our first service is a place to grow in the knowledge of the scriptures with verse by verse teaching. If you are exploring your faith, our second and third services are for you. But the church’s direction traces back to a thought in the mind of one of our founding elders. My life’s trajectory traces back to a time as a kid when God grabbed my attention. I began to see Him as the source of life, purpose, forgiveness, and wisdom. He grabbed my attention…and it changed the direction of my life, my decisions, and my destination.
While some thoughts GRAB our attention and we are seemingly unaware, the Bible tells us to “PAY ATTENTION” to what we think about. Pay Attention to What you are thinking.
PAY ATTENTION To Our Thinking
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things
There are some things that don’t grab our attention, but we have to consciously PAY ATTENTION TO. Paul tells us to think about “THESE” things, obviously meaning we need to not think about other things. Think about things that are “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtue.”
We must consciously Pay ATTENTION TO THEM, rather than letting other thoughts grab our attention. This is an active process. We know that if we don’t PAY ATTENTION, we will veer in the wrong direction.
Years ago, I counseled a business guy because his marriage was about to explode. He confessed to me about a sexual affair and a long history of pornography. He spent his life “meditating” and letting pictures of women “grab” his attention and his thinking. I began to teach him what the Bible says about Capturing thoughts, paying attention to your thinking, and your looking. Each week we talked. He was becoming better at “paying attention” when his eyes were roaming. He was paying attention to his thoughts, “I can look and not touch” was a common lie he believed. He began to “think” about something different when he caught himself lusting. He would take verses like this one, “Whatever is true, noble, just, and pure, meditate on these things” and think about them in that moment. It was a long process of growth, but he was able to PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HE THOUGHT ABOUT and restore his marriage and purity.
This principle impacts every area of life.
- Health: We know that if we don’t pay attention to what we eat, or give attention to our salt intake, or pay attention to how often we work out, or pay attention to our blood sugar… we will be in trouble. There is a dangerous destination in store if we don’t PAY ATTENTION.
- Finances: Many of us know that we need to PAY ATTENTION to our money. We may want to be generous, but if we don’t PAY ATTENTION to our giving, we will not be radically generous. If we don’t PAY ATTENTION to our spending, it will get away from us. If we don’t PAY ATTENTION to our retirement and savings, we will not have the strong destination we want.
- Parenting: Few things require constantly paying attention to than kids. We pay attention to them so they don’t run into the road. pay attention to their teachers, to instructions, etc.
- Marriages: I have talked to so many couples who’ve been married 20-30 years and they’ve said, “We have to pay attention to our marriage or we drift. We have to intentionally pay attention to our own selfishness, developing common interests, etc.” if we want to succeed.
- Faith: Most people I know who lose connection with God, or loss of confidence in their faith will say, “I stopped paying attention. We got a lake house and went there once a month, then every weekend, and eventually we stopped going. I went to college and stopped paying attention to my faith… Our kids got involved in swimming and select soccer which played on weekends… we didn’t pay attention and soon 1, 2, 4 years went by and we had not been a church and faith was not as important to them or us as it once was…”
For a free first session of Godonomics, visit: http://www.godonomics.com/watch-session-1