Using Christian Meditation and Prayer to Reduce Financial Stress

by Van Richards , Christian Examiner Contributor |

(PHOTO BY BETHANY LAIRD ON UNSPLASH)

No matter what your net worth or occupation, almost everybody experiences financial stress at some point in their lives. When it does happen to you, know that you are not alone. God can help you through your stressful circumstances if you pray and ask for direction.

In examining how God can help you with your financial stress, it is important to see how money and Christianity are closely related. From a Christian perspective, money has always been intertwined with life. Many parables taught by Jesus dealt with money or wealth. However, in those parables, money or wealth was usually not the central focus. Jesus uses the examples to illustrate a point. The parable of Building on a Wise Foundation (Matthew 7:24-29, NLT) is one of the most well known of Jesus' parables. It is a story about the wisdom of a man who built his house on a solid foundation of rock and how the house stood strong during storms. Jesus contrasted the builder's wisdom with the foolishness of a man who builds his house on sand. When the storms came, the home on the weak foundation was washed away.

Was this parable truly about building a house? No, yet the applications of the parable could apply to many circumstances in your life today. Building on a Wise Foundation is part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. So considering the time and the audience, perhaps He meant that people of that time were not wisely following the foundations of God's teachings. Perhaps he was referring to Pharisees who had dogmatically twisted God's laws to suit their desires. At the time of the first telling and today "Jesus parables had a clear twofold purpose; they hid the truth from self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him, while the same parables revealed truth to eager souls with childlike faith – those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness" (Macarthur, 2016).

For most people guidance from God comes through prayer and studying the Bible. Another tool that can help you through stressful situations is meditation. Meditation and prayer may unlock for you the meaning of Jesus' teaching and parables to help you handle financial stress and other circumstances in your life. In American society, meditation may be perceived as a non-Christian practice; however, do not be put off by this perception. From a Christian perspective, meditation is merely a method of focusing your thoughts. According to Webster's dictionary, to meditate is "to engage in thought or contemplation."

If you have financial stress, you may find it helpful to read a Bible passage that relates to your situation, pray for God to give you the knowledge to find solutions to your situation, then meditate. A Bible passage that may help is Matthew 6:25-33, which begins with "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life."

Here are a few ideas that will help get you started with Christian meditation. There are no specific rules. The idea is to be "present, open and awake. Neither clinging to or rejecting anything," according to author James Finley. What works for some people may not work for others. A beneficial resource to learn more about Christian meditation is an audiobook by James Finley titled Christian Meditation: Entering the Mind of Christ (Finley, 2015). Finley's audiobook takes you through a step by step process to help you incorporate meditation into your daily routine. Here is a basic outline.

  1. Start by committing to meditate for ten minutes. As you become more comfortable with meditating, you can extend your time to twenty or thirty minutes. It will be helpful to use a timer, however not one that ticks or has an abrupt ring. Smartphones are great for timing your meditation because you can put it on airplane mode and find a simple ringtone to end your meditation.
  2. Find a comfortable position to sit or recline in. Some sources insist that you must have an upright sitting body posture. Reclining works better for me because of a physical impediment. The idea is to be in a position that is comfortable and attentive, so use what works for you.
  3. Some people will meditate with their eyes closed or in a relaxed gaze. If closing your eyes bothers you try sitting quietly with your eyes relaxed, looking down.
  4. The focus in meditation is to relax your mind. So that meditation becomes a daily routine, you may find it helpful to come to the same physical location at the same time each day. You may like to have Christian symbols that you focus on, short Bible verses that you repeat in your mind, or sounds such as rain or relaxing music. Many people prefer the sound of silence and say it helps them focus.
  5. Controlling your breathing is an integral part of meditation. You want to have full easy breaths. Your breathing should not be so fast that you hyperventilate and not so deep that you unnaturally contort your body to slow your breathing.
  6. To be in a peaceful content state is your goal. If you feel emotions that lead you into thoughts of disturbing situations, try to guide your mind back to a calm state by focusing on a symbol, word or sound. For example, the first phrase from Matthew 6:25, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life," may be a good anchor phrase if your mind begins to wander. If you find yourself obsessing over a disturbing thought or situation, stop your meditation and come back when you feel more in control. If you are having trouble processing your feelings, find someone you trust in and discuss your situation.

Using meditation as a prelude or finale to daily prayer and Bible study may help you carry the peaceful feeling that you get from that activity into your everyday life. If you are in a calm, open state, you may be able to find God's guidance for your finances, and for other parts of your life.

– Van Richards is a Christian financial advisor as well as the founder of https://www.Advice4LifeInsurance.com and http://www.Advice4Retirement.com. Van draws from his 30 years as a financial advisor to write about financial issues from a Christian perspective. You can contact him at van@advice4lifeinsurance.com.