Ephesians 3: 14 – 21.
The Apostle Paul’s prayer in his Epistle to the Ephesian Church appears to be of critical significance in reflecting God’s desire for His people. As believers, it seems superfluous for Paul to restate the obvious when they are positionally in Christ (Eph 3:16-19). Nonetheless, when practical truth remains unapplied in our real-world day-to-day life, it becomes meaningless; persisting just as another cerebral datum. The pragmatic element in the Apostle’s prayer is that we may experience the reality of intimacy with Christ (c.f., Rom 8:14-17), being able to appreciate the extent of His love together with His church community (c.f., Col 2:9-10), and being overwhelmed by His greatness and glory (c.f., 1 Peter 5:10). What exactly does Paul mean? We are aware that despite being in Christ, we are saved sinners, and therefore, capable of sinning, even with a capacity towards idolatry. Our fallenness ensures that our walk with others, our relationship with the world and our Creator are often deformed and prejudiced by sin, hence, at times, our feelings are rarely reliable sources of certitude. Therefore, to sense God’s love and compassion, and to know its authenticity, can be quite a challenge. However, Paul’s statements imply that being in God’s palpable presence, this side of heaven is humanly possible. So, relating to the Almighty goes well beyond just believing in Him.
The preparatory journey of such intimate communion with God rests in the work of His Holy Spirit in strengthening us with His power in our inner man (i.e., ‘the spiritual man’; Eph 3:16). His Holy Spirit ensures that the truth of God’s Word sinks into our spirit, sometimes beyond our intellectual capacity to completely grasp it, and impacting our heart, soul and mind, to cause a permanent change in our thoughts and behaviour so that our desires and motives begin to reflect closely with that of our Lord and Saviour. Invariably, emotions are inescapable in any communion with God, but if it is just emotionalism, it will be devoid of any critical life transformation thereafter. In the development of such an ongoing relationship, some discipline is required on our part (c.f., Jer 29:10-14), but it is not about practising a rigid and austere form of meditation. Simply, continual communion with God is about getting to know Him, as He had revealed Himself through His Word (c.f., Ps 1; Ps 84; Prov 3; Prov 30:5-6; Ps 119:15-16).
Meditation in the Biblical world is not a silent practice, and it is defined by various English words in the Bible (e.g., commune with thine own heart, to mutter, to keep in mind, to pray, to study). Its object deals particularly with the Law and its precepts and statutes, testimonies and promises, and therefore, to meditate is to spend time in quietness and usually alone, drawing close to God and listening to Him, pondering on His Word, His creation, His mighty works or other aspects of His self-revelation. It involves the actual exercise of the mind in fixing our thoughts on spiritual truths. Next comes the predisposition of all our affections (viz., our heart, our emotions and rational life) being directed to embrace the spiritual truths and engage them in our attitudes and behaviour daily, in both the private and public spheres. Finally, we savor them by experiencing through the grace of God and the love of Christ the wholesomeness and contentment of this remarkable spiritual life in Christ (Col 2:6-7; Col 2:9-10), ensuring that we become obedient to His promptings and directions (c.f., Ps 19:14; Ps 119:23-24). The practical result arising from divine communion is such that Jesus instructed His followers not to waste time meditating their anticipated defence before their persecutors as they are unpredictable, as the Holy Spirit will give them His wisdom as to what they are to say when the time came (Luke 12:11-12; c.f., 1 Tim 4:13-16). Invariably, communion with God is a life-time consumed with obediently cultivating and enriching our relationship with our Saviour and Lord (c.f., Deut 4:29; Jer 29:13; Matt 22:37-38).