We’ve established that Christian meditation is necessary and Biblical. But oftentimes, people associate mantras with meditation. This is because Eastern meditation is so commonly known in the U.S, and Eastern meditation uses mantras. However, to answer whether or not mantras are apart of Christianity, we must examine them. And if mantras are not for Christian meditation, then is there something comparable?
Do Christians have mantras? Christians do not use mantras, as the definition and origin of mantras are innately Hindu. Christians do have their own comparable way of practicing mantras, and those are phrases taken from the Bible.
Let’s take a closer look at what a mantra is, the origins of mantras, and comparable Biblical and historical phrases that Christians can use instead of mantras.
What is a Mantra?
According to Wikipedia, mantras are defined as “a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers. Some mantras have a syntactic structure and literal meaning, while others do not.”
Mantras are quite easily synonymous with incantations. With a Hindu background, incantations were also used by those who use mantras. Incantations are “the use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic also: a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect” (Merriam-Webster).
It is important to know that mantras have two important components. That is; meaning and sound. It is believed that if the mantra is not pronounced correctly, that the power of the phrase is lost.
Origins of Mantras
The origins of mantras have distinct origins in Hinduism, which is inherently not Christian. They were first found in the Vedic Scriptures of Hindus. In this portion of the text, there is a weighty emphasis on the sacredness of sound. This is supported by the fact that Hindus have a goddess of sound and worship with Vedic hymns, all worshipping sound itself. Mantras were also used in Hindu religious rites and domestic ceremonies, and this tradition has not died today. After being widely practiced in Hinduism, mantras became popular amongst those who practiced Buddhism as well.
When mantras were first created, they were thought to induce a deep spiritual trance of wisdom on the participant. This trancelike state would be considered spiritual enlightenment which is highly revered amongst Hindus and Buddhists.
Something that most people don’t know about mantras is that they are not only believed in for spiritual power but also for psychic power. This is also a part of the journey of enlightenment in the two major world religions.
Biblical & Historical Phrases for Christian Meditation
While there are many, many phrases that we could list for Biblical and historical phrases of Christian meditation, we chose four that are impactful and comparable to mantras.
All Christians would agree that there is power in the name of Jesus.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.— Philippians 2:9-11
So, when we meditate on the name of Jesus, we meditate on the Lord that we serve. We remember that He is above all. We also meditate on who He is, such as our Savior, our Shepard, our friend, our Lord, and our redeemer. Meditating on His name gives the Christian the empowerment to keep pressing forward for His namesake.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’— Galatians 4:6
Meditating on the word “Abba” is a powerful tool for Christians. It has been encouraged through Scripture to call God, “Abba,” but what does this really mean? We look at the meditation practice of The Abba Prayer for guidance.
In Scripture, when the authors led us to call God, Abba, they meant that we are to know Him intimately, as our own father. Abba was one of the most intimate terms in Aramaic, which was Jesus’ primary language.
The name brings Christians to remembrance that they are a child of God, and that He loves us even more intimately and passionately than our own fathers ever could. This is because He sent the spirit of His own Son to live inside of us through sacrifice, and therefore we are able to call out, “Abba, Father!”
The steps of The Abba Prayer are:
- Sit, kneel, or lie on your bed for a few moments and let yourself relax in the Father’s welcoming presence. A few deep breaths can be helpful here for relaxing.
- Once you have relaxed, breathe in slowly while saying “Abba”; breathe out slowly while saying “I belong to You”.
- Slowly, prayerfully, repeat these words for several moments: “Abba” (breathing in); “I belong to You”(breathing out).
- End this time of prayerful meditation by praying The Lord’s Prayer.
- Take the Abba Prayer with you into your day, and live close to the Father’s heart. “Abba, I belong to you. Abba, I belong to you…”
This is a historically ancient Christian phrase from the Aramaic language. It has 3 different meanings, and all are possible; “Our Lord-come!”, “Our Lord is coming”, and “Our Lord has come”. It is originally two Aramaic words; marana tha.
The word captured hope for the early church, and it was often meditated on as a confession and cry for the Lord. The word was developed during the persecution of the 1st-century Christian church when the Romans were killing Christians for their faith.
From then on, Maranatha became a greeting from one fellow believer to another, and even replaced the popular Jewish greeting, Shalom. It also supported the teachings of Jesus’ parables, that He would return, and kept His teachings at the forefront of every Christian mind.
Today, we can repeat and meditate on this phrase to meditate on Christ’s return. Man knows not the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:36), so we must be ready and watchful for our Bridegroom. This Christian phrase has helped and will continue to help the Church body meditate on the truth that Jesus will one day return for His Bride.
The Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer goes like this; “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy upon me.”
This phrase has been meditated on by Christians for centuries. Originally, coming out in the 5th century from Eygpt, most of the Eastern Church still uses it today.
It is thought that the more we meditate on this phrase, the more of our “Prayer of the Heart”, which is the ceaseless prayer that Paul refers to, will pour out from us unto the Father. The prayer was used, traditionally, in Hesychasm.
Hesychasm is “a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Based on Jesus’s injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that ‘when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray‘, Hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God”. It is a very deliberate and powerful form of Christian meditation.
The Jesus Prayer allows us to meditate on the presence of God, and to remember that there is mercy for us as we seek Him. It acknowledges the God-hood of Jesus and the Sonship of Jesus, which a crucial identity points for Him. There is mercy for us as His people.
This phrase is used for meditation because it is historically sound and is Biblically based.