A Brief History of Christian Meditation

Many are unaware of the deep roots of meditation within our Christian heritage. From Jesus’ own moments of communion with God to the practices of the Desert Fathers and Mothers in the 3rd century—hermits, ascetics, and monks—meditation has been integral. These men and women influenced leaders like St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great. Throughout history, there is a cloud of witnesses who have practiced and have written about Christian meditation. Below is just a partial list of authors that have written about this important spiritual practice.

Within its rich history, this spiritual practice has been known by various names: The Jesus prayer, centering prayer, quiet prayer, silent prayer, resting prayer, contemplative prayer, and others. Despite the diversity in nomenclature and methodology, each lead to the core of one’s being, where the presence of God is encountered.