Thomas Watson’s A Christian on the Mount: A Treatise Concerning Meditation (free eBook here) made my list of top reads last year. I can’t imagine a richer or more inspiring book on the discipline of meditation. Watson is a master illustrator, each page brimming with its own collection of images illustrating the ins and outs of meditation. Below is a sample in which Watson shares on the relationship between meditation on Scripture and prayer.
Prayer is the spiritual pulse of the soul, by which it beats strongly after God. There is no living without prayer; a man cannot live—unless he breathes; no more can the soul live—unless it breathes out its desires to God. Prayer ushers in mercy, and prayer sanctifies mercy, it makes mercy to be mercy, 1 Tim. 4:5. Prayer has power over God, Hos. 12:4. Prayer comes with letters of request to heaven. Prayer is the spiritual leech—which sucks the poison of sin out of the soul. What a blessed (shall I say duty or) privilege is prayer! Meditation is a help to prayer; Gerson calls it the nurse of prayer. Meditation is like oil to the lamp; the lamp of prayer will soon go out unless meditation feeds it. Meditation and prayer are like two turtles-doves—if you separate one, the other dies. A skillful angler observes the time and season when the fish bite best, and then he throws in his hook. Just so, when the heart is warmed by meditation, now is the best season to throw in the hook of prayer, and fish for mercy. After Isaac had been in the field meditating, he was fit for prayer when he came home. When the gun is full of powder, it is fittest to discharge. So when the mind is full of good thoughts, a Christian is fittest by prayer to discharge, now he sends up whole volleys of sighs and groans to heaven.
Meditation has a double benefit in it—it pours in, and pours out. First it pours good thoughts into the mind, and then it pours out those thoughts again into prayer. Meditation first furnishes with matter to pray, and then it furnishes with a heart to pray, Psalm 39:3. “I was musing,” says David, and the very next words are a prayer, “Lord make me to know my end;” and Psalm 143:5, 6, “I muse on the works of your hands, I stretch forth my hands to you;” the musing of his head made way for the stretching forth of his hands in prayer. When Christ was upon the mount, then he prayed. Just so, when the soul is upon the mount of meditation, now it is in tune for prayer. Prayer is the child of meditation. Meditation leads the van, and prayer brings up the rear.
You see why I call Watson the master illustrator? Each illustration is like the each stroke of a paintbrush that fills in a beautiful painting.
If you’re looking for a new life resolution or want to escape the trappings of a broken and angry world, fill your mind with the promises of Scripture, for, as Watson writes, “The promises of God are flowers growing in the paradise of scripture; meditation, like the bee, sucks out the sweetness of them. The promises are of no use or comfort to us, until they are meditated upon.”
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