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I’ve written a lot about meditation. In fact, I think I may have written about it more than any other single topic.

And there’s good reason for that. Of all the ways to experience God, it has been the most profound for me. Even when I have no desire to worship, study, or teach, meditation always seems welcoming. Its comforting to me. I don’t have to prove anything. I just sit and be.

Maybe it’s the lazy man’s worship.  Or maybe the introvert’s worship. That’s probably what I like about it.

Beyond that meditation has a ton of physical and mental benefits. Meditation can:

  • Lower stress
  • Reduce risk of stress for teenagers and pregnant women
  • Help you sleep
  • Improve your memory
  • Help you focus

(Here’s a great explanation of what happens to our brains when we meditate.)

These health benefits can come from any form of meditation, but I’m encouraging forms of meditation that are specifically Christian. There are a few reasons I practice this specific kind of meditation.

So here’s why I meditate (and why you should too).

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I think the most common question Christians ask is “What is God’s will for my life?” But as common as this question is, most Christians don’t know how to answer it or how to help others to answer it.

Right now my wife and I are trying to ask an even more complex question: “What is God’s will for OUR life?” Adding in the desires and doubts of another person makes it even more difficult to discern.

So I’ve been thinking about what makes discernment possible and how that works in a group and  have created this guide as a result.

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If you read my blog regularly, you know I’ve been on a bit of a prayer kick lately.

It started with The Way of a Pilgrim and the notion of unceasing prayer. I was fascinated with the idea of “interior prayer” and wanted to find out more about that. So I turned to the book on interior prayer: The Cloud of Unknowing.

While the author of The Cloud of Unknowing is anonymous, most people assume he was a Carthusian Monk. This is, as well as the larger  Christian culture of the 14th century, are key to understanding the thinking of The Cloud of Unknowing.

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As part of my ongoing attempt to expand my understanding of Christianity I have been reading old books. To find out why I would do such a thing check out my previous post about that very thing.

The Way of a Pilgrim bookWhile not nearly as old as our previous books, The Way of a Pilgrim, is considered a spiritual classic in the Eastern Orthodox Church which makes it different from the works we are used to reading and therefore able to widen our understanding just as well as an old book from within our tradition.

Nobody knows who wrote The Way of a Pilgrim (or even when it was written), but its mention of the Crimean War and some indicators that it was written before the Liberation of the Serfs makes it pretty clear it was written sometime between 1853 and 1861.

The book is different from previous Old Books because it is a narrative rather than a treatise. Broken into four sections called “narratives” it tells the story of a pilgrim as he attempts to understand what the apostle meant by “pray without ceasing.” He discovers a form of prayer called the Jesus Prayer which transforms him. Without knowing the author it is hard to know if it is a real account. Some scholars believe it was written as an allegory of the Christian life by a monk in a monastery on Mount Athos (where it was discovered). Nevertheless, the book has been popular outside of the Eastern Orthodox and is credited with bringing the Jesus Prayer to the west (in part from its importance in J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey).

The pilgrim carries with him a collection of the church fathers writings on prayer called the Philokalia. These texts are mentioned often and quoed extensively, so this an old book in side an old book, or as I’ve been calling it O L D C E P T I O N (please click that link).

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