Is your prayer really effective? How can it be more so? You are probably neglecting one of the vital keys to real SPIRITUAL GROWTH! Here's how to get more out of prayer and Bible study through MEDITATION!
HOW DO you pray? And why? Has it done you or others any good? Is it helping you grow? Lack of effective prayer is one of the major problems in God's Church! Many find it hard to pray. Or hard to concentrate on praying. WHY? What is lacking?
Different Kinds of Prayer
What kind of prayer do you pray? Is yours a sleepy-time prayer? — done as a duty in a cloud of stupor at the end of a hard day? Or perhaps your most frequent prayer is the five minute RUSH. This kind is sandwiched in among all the activities of the day and squashed into five minutes. It is all comprehensive — taking in the entirety of God's Work — all the sick, afflicted, troubled, etc. in five long minutes!! Then there is the repetitious rote prayer! This consists of the same words day after day. It is done as a chore — boring, dutiful. It is lifeless. And elation comes upon its completion. Most of God's people are guilty from time to time of the RAMBLING WORD, WANDERING THOUGHT prayer. You know what to say — but your mind is on something else. A heartless, mindless prayer is an abomination to GOD! We must repent of this spiritual RUDENESS to the ALMIGHTY LIVING CREATOR — our FATHER! Is your prayer halfhearted — lacking faith? Many who pray regularly admit their prayer lacks dynamic faith. They don't have the fervent wholehearted prayer they so desire. Some start out praying for others but within minutes end up with a "GIMME" prayer. Ending totally on self, this prayer fails to bring us closer to God or His people. Then there are times in most of our lives when we really do pray the EFFECTUAL, FERVENT PRAYER! Our hearts are in it — our minds on it. This rich, deep communion with our Heavenly Father through our High Priest, fills us with His love and furthers our spiritual growth! With the effectual fervent prayer our prayer life is interesting, exciting and stimulating. We love it! But why can't every prayer be that way? Here is the answer!
God told Joshua the key to spiritual and physical success. "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt MEDITATE therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Josh. 1:8). David described the man blessed of God who always prospers. He said, "But his delight is in the law of the Eternal; and in His law doth he meditate day and night" (Ps. 1:2). How many of God's people take time to meditate? Do you? Do you think about God's law? — about His way — about God Himself? God says, "Stand in awe and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Ps. 4:4.) To commune with your own heart is to meditate. It is to think about God's Law — His way. Think about your life — your ways — and examine them in the light of God's Law.
The man after God's own heart admitted that he did better in prayer upon meditation. "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: WHEN I REMEMBER THEE UPON MY BED, AND MEDITATE ON THEE IN THE NIGHT WATCHES" (PS. 63:5-6). Your prayer would be more joyful — your praise more sincere — if you took time to meditate on God! David did! Why don't you? How many times have you been unable to go to sleep? What do you do? Count sheep? Why not MEDITATE? As you lie there feeling the blood pulse in your temple, think about the GREAT MASTER DESIGNER who made your heart. How is it that your heart goes on and on? You almost never give it a thought. Yet this powerful pump ticks on day and night. It responds to the demands of physical exertion or emotional involvement. Who made you? How GREAT IS GOD! With this meditation will come a warm feeling — a feeling that you'd like to kneel down and praise the EVER-LIVING CREATOR. Then why not? You can't sleep — why not get up and pray while you're inspired? Or in the blackness of night while in bed you can think of God on His throne. Think of HIS GLORY! The myriads of angels. The four living creatures. The splendor of His magnificent throne. How wonderful that the ALMIGHTY God is your Father! You think of your children sound asleep. You need not worry — even in this concrete jungle and violent world. If you've done your part you know God will grant you His protection. How comforting that you have His protection. What peace! What joy! What inspiration to lie there and praise God in your heart (mind). Notice what else David said. "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, 0 God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee" (Ps. 139:17-18). David meditated at night. He thought on God's way before going to sleep. And upon awaking he was still close to God — his mind was on the things of God!
Think About the Law
God's Law is perfect! It converts the soul. See Ps. 19:7. God's commandments are righteousness and truth (Ps. 119:142, 172). Meditating on God's law cleans our minds from worldly thoughts and evils. We perceive more of God's character and His nature by meditating on His Law. God is good and His Law proves it. God's commands are all for the good of His people. They are the basis of wisdom and true knowledge. God said of the Israelites "O that there were such an heart in them that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, THAT IT MIGHT BE WELL WITH THEM, AND WITH THEIR CHILDREN FOR EVER!" (Deut. 5:29.) Let's examine one of God's perfect Laws. "If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days" (Deut. 22:6-7). Was this law for the birds? No! It was for God's people. Here's why. Birds are the greatest protectors of plants. Scientists have figured that birds in Massachusetts eat about 21,000 bushels of insects a day during the summer months of the year. Each bushel contains about 120,000 insects. That amounts to over 2 1/2 BILLION insects per day! In New York state birds eat three million bushels of harmful insects every year! Scientists tell us that if all insects were allowed to live there would be no plant life on this planet in less than 10 years!! No, God's Law is not for the birds. It's for us and our children. We know that if the mother bird is taken into captivity it will not survive. And the young it could bring about will never be. This is not only cruel to the older bird but very foolish and harmful to our own welfare. In the United States today we are experiencing the curse of multiplied insects. It is a curse of reduced bird population. How wise IS God! How good to His people! How wonderful His Law! David found God's Law intriguing enough to meditate on it day and night! David said, "Oh, How love I thy law! It is my MEDITATION all the day" (Ps. 119:97). David went on to say that God's commandments made him wiser than his enemies. He had more understanding than his teachers because "thy testimonies are my meditation" (verse 99). David had little trouble praying and putting his heart into it. This was because he meditated. He thought first. He said, "My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Eternal" (Ps. 104:34).
How to Use Meditation
How can you put meditation into your life? When should you begin? Begin now — today! Before praying take a few minutes alone to meditate and think about God. Think about God's character through His Law. Think about the marvels of God's creation. Take time to meditate on God's Work! Think about the overseas offices. Ponder world conditions. Let your mind concentrate and dwell on God's ministers serving Him around the world. Let your mind become concerned with God's Work. When you are praying at 10 p.m. Friday night Eastern Standard Time the brethren in Australia are in the midst of church services. It's 1:00 p.m. the next day (approximately) there! The brethren in England would be sound asleep as it is 3:00 a.m. in the wee hours of the morning. While you sleep they'll be getting ready for church services. And before you're out of church the Sabbath will be over for them. Don't forget God's ministers. Many are pounding the road every day — visiting, counselling, anointing. On the Sabbath God's ministers are traveling — crisscrossing the U. S. A. serving God's people. Pray for their protection! Pray for God's inspiration on their sermons. And don't forget the colleges! The students need and plead for your prayers. They want to grow — to be used of God in His service. No one can do this of himself. 'They all need God's help. Your prayers for them are sorely needed. Remember God's ministers at Headquarters in Pasadena. Many decisions — BIG decisions — have to be made every day. Ask God to give wisdom and direction through His spirit to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong and Mr. Roderick C. Meredith. Pray for the editorial staffs of The PLAIN TRUTH, GOOD NEWS and CORRESPONDENCE COURSE. (And some say they can't think of anything to pray about!) Ask God to bless His Work — financially and in manpower. Ask Him to open more doors as we are ready for the preaching of the gospel to the world. Stop for a moment! Consider The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast. It goes to the world at large — England, Australia, South Africa, Philippines, Asia, South America, etc. plus the U.S.A. It is a miracle how God inspires His servants, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, to preach in English, being American, and yet reach people who think and feel different about many subjects from Americans. It's a miracle! It's God's inspiration! Ask God to continue to POUR out that inspiration upon His savants as they speak to the entire world! Brethren, THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS — and pay about them! I have a globe in my study which helps me in meditation. Looking at the various countries and continents, I envision how God looks at this troubled world. In my mind's eye I see the trouble spots, wars, crimes, slums, famines, etc. This inspires me to pray fervently, "Thy Kingdom Come!" Think on your blessings. We often fail to thank God because we don't take time to think on and appreciate the blessings God gives us. Let your mind dwell on God's blessings to you and your family. Meditate on the matchless privilege of knowing the true and Living God, of being called out of this world of sin and destruction. Let your heart be inspired to thank the Almighty God for these blessings. And if tears come — don't hold them back! Let meditation inspire you to pray — to put your whole heart into fervent prayer.
Meditation Helps Bible Study
Some say they cannot remember the Bible like they want to. Many read the Bible and soon forget what they read. Is your Bible study halfhearted? Is it skimpy and meaningless? Do you read the Bible like you would a novel — missing many of the deep passages? Is Bible study boring to you? Or is it really profitable? Here's how you can get more out of Bible study! David said, "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I WILL NOT FORGET THY WORD" (Ps. 119:15-16). Meditation helps you remember God's Word! Think about your Bible study. Don't just read the Bible out of a duty to God, and rush off forgetting God's Word. You should read the Bible to remember it. Take a few minutes to ponder think about, and meditate on God's Word. Apply it to your life. Ask questions. How does it apply to your life? Are there lessons that you need to learn from what you read? What are the principles of God's Word? Do you thoroughly understand what you read? Try to recount what you've learned. If you cannot remember it completely, then with a questioning mind reread that portion of the Bible. You will be surprised how much you will remember. There are many opportunities during the course of the day when our minds can meditate on God's Law and His Word. There are lulls in our daily work or activities when our minds tend to daydream or drift. Don't let them! Direct your mind toward God and His Law. Meditate on your Bible study. Meditate on world conditions. Meditate on the miracles of God. "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works: I muse on the work of thy hands" (Ps. 143:5). Meditation helps connect the knowledge you take in with the knowledge you have. Meditation helps you see the relationship of Bible principles to your life and world conditions. If you don't meditate you simply miss out on a real deep understanding and savvy of God's Word. Don't miss the really balanced life because you fail to think about and ponder God's ways.
Meditate Before Studying
Unless already started some have difficulty deciding what to study. They flip through the Bible from book to book not knowing what they want to study. Finally out of fear and duty they read a portion of the Bible. Meditate before Bible study. See how it helps! Ask yourself questions about the Bible. Do you know what's in the book of Joshua? Do you understand the old covenant? Have you read the book of Nehemiah? Do you understand the book of Esther? Have you really taken time to digest the book of Proverbs with its practical principles? Are you familiar with the exciting prophecies of the book of Amos? By asking these questions and thinking about the Bible your curiosity will be aroused to want to study God's Word. And you won't just study — you'll study with a purpose!
Jesus Christ Meditated
Jesus thought deeply on God's Word. He knew how it applied to His life. God's Word tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. "And when He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was afterwards an hungered" (Mat. 4:2). What did Jesus do during those forty days of fasting? He studied God's word, prayed, and meditated! Undoubtedly He did much meditating while fasting during that time. God led Mr. Armstrong to see this three-point program of spiritual rejuvenation. During a fast Mr. Armstrong divided his time equally with Bible study, prayer, and meditation. Yet, today, perhaps the most neglected part of our spiritual life is that of meditation. Few do it! And those who do — don't do it often enough. God's Word is replete with exhortations to meditate. Meditation is vitally linked with God's plan for our lives. No other being of God's physical creation has a mind that can think and meditate. God gave man this capacity! God intended that we take time from our restless everyday hurry to ponder the most important questions: What are we? Why are we? Where are we going? What are the laws that will guarantee success in life? What is the way that will lead to eternal life? Do you understand these questions thoroughly? Are you meditating on them? And is that meditation leading you to a deeper, richer understanding of God's Word — into a greater, more intimate contact with God Almighty, YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER? Paul told Timothy these words which also apply to you: "Meditate upon these things: Give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting [progress] may appear to all" (I Tim. 4:15). Start today. Make meditation a vital part of your spiritual life!