Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between Christian meditation and prayer? This is something I’ve been wondering myself lately, so I figured why not write a blog about it.
What are the differences between Christian prayer and meditation? The key difference between prayer and meditation is: prayer is making your requests known to God and opening up to him like you would a best friend, whereas meditation is taking the time to listen to what God has to say to you through reading and digging deeper into the Bible.
Before reading this article take some to write what you already believe prayer and meditation to be, then put it to the side for now.
What is Prayer?
I used to think that prayer had to be a formal conversation with God where I say pretty much the same script every night:
“Dear Lord, thank you for this day, please forgive me for lying to my Dad about eating chocolate before dinner, help me to get the new One Direction CD for my birthday, and help me to sleep well. Amen.”
Throughout the years my prayer life slowly became less formal, but it wasn’t until this past year when I read through Psalms that I finally realized that praying should really be like having a conversation with my best friend.
I can tell God all about my day, my deepest darkest secrets, and could be completely honest with him.
We see an example of this Psalms 51:1-2 when David pours out his heart to God after the sin he committed with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin
In this verse, we see David acknowledging the sin he committed with Bathsheba, while also giving God praise for his unfailing love. We can relate this to our personal prayer lives knowing that God is worthy to be praised and willing to forgive us for our sins no matter how terrible they are.
3 Practical Prayer Tips
Here’s some other things I’ve learned about prayer this year:
- When you pray imagine as if God is right there in the room with you and you’re just hanging out. This helps to focus even more so on my conversation with God and feel more comfortable.
- Completely surrender to God, we need to give God full control of our lives so we need to stop grasping onto our wants and give it to him with open palms.
- If you make a prayer routine, make sure that you are also dedicated to praying spontaneously. Prayer should be a part of our daily lives in many different ways. I encourage you to pray in different locations you haven’t in the past because God wants us to talk to him whenever needed, not just when it’s convenient for us.
What is Meditation?
Growing up I always thought meditation is something only yoga people did and actually thought it was a sin, but meditation is something we are called to do in Joshua 1:8:
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Meditation is not just closing your eye and saying “ummmmm” for Christians. It is reading the Bible and focusing on small portions in order to deepen your understanding of it, and more importantly listening to what God speaks to you through his word.
4 Practical Meditation Tips
If you have never meditated on God’s word before it can be a little intimidating at first, so here’s some advice on how to get started:
- First, find a quiet area without limited distractions and get comfy. I highly recommend having a cup of coffee, lighting a candle or turning on a diffuser, and a comfy blanket to help set the mood.
- Next, in order to meditate on God’s word you have to have a verse to meditate on. For your first time, I recommend “easy reads” such as anything from Psalms, or Proverbs. If none of these verses appeal to you spend time in Prayer and looking over the books of the bible to see what God is calling you to meditate on.
- After you’ve chosen your verse to meditate on start reading your verse, look up words you’re unsure of, do some research on the background of the verse (Who wrote it, who it’s written to, and the purpose of the verse).
- After meditating on a verse for 15-45 minutes, I go to my mentor or pastor to discuss the verse with them and to see what their knowledge of the verse is to help deepen my understanding even more. You could also find a podcast or youtube video on the passage of Scripture as well.
Prayer vs. Meditation: 4 Key Differences
Simon Chokoisky differentiates prayer and meditation by saying “Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening.”
When I first saw this quote my mind was blown, because even though I had a basic understanding of both prayer and meditation, I realized that I had thought of prayer and meditation to be the same thing.
After digging deeper into prayer and meditation I noticed these 4 differences:
- Prayer is more of a conversation, whereas meditation is taking time to dig deeper into God’s word.
- Prayer is asking for help, and meditation can help you find the biblical answer to your problem.
- Prayer is talking to God, and meditation is allowing God to speak to you.
- Prayer can be experienced with others, and meditation should be a more intimate experience with just you and God.
Here’s where your list comes in, look over your list of both prayer and meditation. What were your preconceived ideas of each? How can you use this newly learned info to grow your prayer and meditation life?
How Prayer and Meditation Work Together
Though these two spiritual disciplines have 5 key differences, practicing them both together helps you deepen your relationship with God even more. I believe that neither is superior to the other and that they should be both be a part of our daily lives.
You can combine prayer and meditation in two different ways:
First, before reading scripture pray by asking God to open your eyes to what he wants to reveal to you. And second, after meditating on scripture pray the verse you just read or have a conversation with God about what you just read.
Both of these ways help you fully surrender to God, and blend meditation and prayer together in order to deepen your quiet time with God.
I hope that after reading this article you realize that prayer and meditation are as important in our daily life as food and water because once making these interactions habit we make Jesus the bread of our daily life, and allow him to work through us.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.John 6:35-40
When we apply meditation and prayer to our daily lives we will be more full spiritually because we are practicing making Jesus our daily bread.
Here’s my encouragement: Don’t neglect prayer. And don’t neglect meditation. You need to speak to God. And even more, you need to hear from him. Even if you’ve never prayed or meditated before I encourage you to use the tools I previously listed, and start pursuing a relationship with your heavenly father.