Let the Word Speak!

Meditation and Stress

What value does meditation have in stress management?

One of the frequent recommendations for stress management is meditation, which provides a way to learn to relax and settle the mind. Any number of meditationtechniques can work for stress management, as will similar forms of trained relaxation. These relaxation techniques can include deep breathing, stretching, progressive muscle relaxation, or even stroking a pet!

One of the main goals of these meditation techniques is tofocus on the present, rather than dwell on the past or fear the future, and in that way, putting aside the emotional response that will likely dwell on thenegative, and allowing rational thought to assess the situation and use the techniques discussed in this series to redirect the stress into positive action.

God, as the One who created us, naturally knows how to help us cope with stress. We can see in Jesus’ teachings on prayer—a form of meditation—many of the elements of stress management that are covered elsewhere in this study. The Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:9-13, illustrates these points:

Our Father which art in heaven,

Not only are we meditating and stepping aside from our situation, we are sharing our situation with Another.

Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Certainly, recognizing God’s divinity and perfect will for our lives gives us a vital perspective on any problem we have, but that’s a huge understatement. What secular advice can’t provide us is the understanding that even if the worst happens to us, God is in control.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Don’t focus on the past or the long-term worries, just deal with today.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

This is an interesting phrase. Secular counselors remind us that we aren’t perfect, and to accept that we will fail, just like we’d accept failure in others around us. Jesus promises us that God will forgive us for our failures and sins, but reminds us that we too must forgive those around us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

Just as Jesus instructs us to focus on our “daily bread,” he instructs us to trust God with the future, that God would guide us and take care of the problems and evil in the future.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in managing stress is that we don’t have to do it all. One of the lessons that we must relearn every day as we grow in faith is just the same—that it isn’t our work, or our power, or our glory, but it is all God’s!

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