On July 17, Christendom lost another Giant of the Faith, J.I. Packer, was one of the most famous and influential evangelical leaders of our time. He was considered one of three most influential evangelical leaders in England, along with John R.W. Stott and Marty Lloyd Jones. Since 1979 he had been a professor at Regent College in Vancouver.
Packer’s magnum opus, the book for which he is best known is titled Knowing God. And since I have had a bit of down-time during the past month, I began to read again, this great Christian classic.
A portion of the book that has arrested my attention, is a section titled Meditating on the Truth. The following are Packer’s words on the subject of Christian meditation.
“How are we to meditate on the truth? How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”
“We have some idea, perhaps, what prayer is, but what is meditation? Well may we ask, for meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of this practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, thinking over, dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.”
I know that is a mouthful, but I am sure that if you would take some time to break down Packer’s description of meditation line by line, you will begin to sense that it is a call to spend time in the presence of God, thinking on God. We are called by scripture, no less than twenty-three times, to take time to meditate on God and His Word.
Meditation is a lost art among many Christians today, because it is first and a foremost a discipline that begins by turning off all of the noise makers that surround us and deliberately setting aside times of silence to sit before God and think of Him and His ways. It is taking of a verse of scripture or an attribute of God and working it over like a kid with an all-day sucker. That when you come out on the other side, it is a coming out that has obtained knowledge of the Holy One that you did not previously possess. As Packer has stated, you come away from such times not with just more knowledge about God, but knowledge of God. So here’s my recommendation for your summer reading, Knowing God by J.I. Packer.