Prayer and Meditation

In the great meditative traditions of both East and West, meditation is viewed as a spiritual exercise, a means of attaining a special kind of awareness that many consider to be the highest state of consciousness of which humans are capable. This advanced state can only be arrived at, however, as part of a total way of life.

Typical procedures followed are an ascetic lifestyle, special physical exercises, diet and social arrangements, together with long hours of meditation each day. Even then, it may take a lifetime (some people believe it takes many lifetimes) to arrive at, or even approximate, this desired state.

The formal discipline of meditation originated in religious practice, and its use as a spiritual exercise, still surpasses its use as a practical technique in most parts of the world. Hindu and Buddhist religions have developed meditation into a fine art, but other religious traditions have developed their own highly effective meditative practices, as well.

Some Christian practices, loosely termed “meditation,” are actually forms of  “contemplation.” Rather than evoking the “meditative mood,” a prolonged, deeply reflective state of mind, they create an atmosphere where thought is directed, in a disciplined manner, to a specific theological issue or religious event, and strive to apply the religious idea contemplated to one’s own life.

Simple prayer is more commonly used by religious followers than meditation.

While intense prayer most likely cannot take place without entering a meditative mood, the mechanical repetition of standard common prayers to fulfill religious obligations does not require this special mood at all.  The prayer, nonetheless, is a goal-directed activity to call upon a deity in some manner; to give praise or offer thanks, seek forgiveness, consolation or assistance; or enter into some other relationship with a deity.

In monasteries, repetition of words in praise of God has been widely used to evoke a special state in which the outer world is shut out and one is transported into an exalted sense of closeness with God. By this means, the mind is to become emptied of all thoughts, images, and passions.

The ‘Prayer of the Heart’ used by Russian monks and devout lay people in pee-revolutionary Russia is one example of this. The prayer was used to “purify the intellect” by means of a passive attitude and the repetition, on each successive out breath, of the phrase ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’

A Beautiful Meditation Prayer to Focus Your Thoughts on God

Meditating on God’s Word, His character, and His actions involves spending time with Him. While we can do that anytime, anywhere, most of us can focus better on God when we plan intentional times alone with Him without distractions.

Meditation, as used in the Bible, is like “chewing” on the truths in God’s Word: much like a cow chewing on its cud. While eating, a cow literally regurgitates its food. Then it chews that food again before finally digesting it and allowing the food to nourish its body and produce the milk we drink.

That’s what we are to do when we meditate on God and His Word. We spend quiet moments reading His truths, thinking about them, “swallowing” their goodness. Then we apply those truths to our lives, maybe even praying them back to God as we digest them. When we do that, God’s Word nourishes and strengthens our soul and draws us even closer to Him.

As you begin to read and reflect about God and His Word, here is a meditation prayer you might offer to Him:

A Beautiful Meditation Prayer

Lord, quiet my heart and still my soul as I wait on you during these moments alone. I recognize you as a holy and majestic God—one who deserves great praise and glory. All of creation testifies to your awesome and unique works. There is no one like you, no other god worthy of honor. 

I want to focus on You, Lord, and to shut out all the distractions of the world. For these next few moments, it’s just you and me, God. You are Spirit, but you are a God who knows us so intimately. I like to imagine you literally sitting here beside me, because of your promise that you are Emmanuel—always “with us.”
As I think about the truths in your Word, may the meditation of my heart be sweet and honoring to you. I am not trying to clear out my mind. I simply want you to empty me of self and fill me with your Holy Spirit.

I long for your presence, Lord. Narrow my thoughts to include only those things that are honorable, truthful, beautiful, pure, and praiseworthy. I ask for your wisdom to apply these truths to my life morning, noon, and night—literally all through the day. For you are worthy to be praised all the time.

I remember your great faithfulness in the past and am so grateful that you shower fresh mercy and grace on me each morning. I rehearse your goodness through answered prayer and personal reminders to me daily of your love for me. Even when I feel alone or distant from you, you draw me back into your presence when I purposely slow down and draw close to you.
I treasure your Word and want to chew on the truths you reveal to me today. As I pull apart each piece and reflect on every principle and word of instruction, I’m asking you to guide me and teach me what you want me to know.

Is there a promise here for me to remember? Is there an action I need to take or a sin to forsake? Is there more for me to understand about your character? Help me personalize your message to my heart today. Your Word is powerful. I celebrate the strength and wisdom you will give me as I learn to honor and glorify you more.

I need you and love you, Lord. And I ask you to speak through your Word and in these quiet moments together. Whisper or shout into my spirit, whichever you want, and whatever I need the most. But most of all, just receive my praise as I focus my thoughts only on you. I’m listening and anticipating as I read and meditate on your beautiful Word.

The Differences Between Prayer and Meditation

There have been many discussions over the usefulness of prayer and meditation.

But what’s the difference? Are there any similarities between the two?


Let’s look at the definitions to see if we find any similarities or differences:


To make a request in a humble manner; to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving


To engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness

They both use the mind. They both are concentrated thoughts. But their goals are different.

In theory, there are 7 billion different types of prayer. There are also 7 billion different types of meditation.

Each person has a different goal for their session. Thousands of different prayers exist, as do thousands of meditations.

Both can be silent or spoken aloud.

It would be silly to try and generalize, saying that all prayers are a certain way, and all meditations are a certain way.

Alas, we’re not here to make friends. We’re here to state the facts. Call me silly and let’s do this.

The Facts

Prayers are an integral part for monotheistic religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

When people sit down to pray, it’s a time for sending thoughts to God (or Yahweh or Allah) and praising Him.

There are prayers for the sick and for those less fortunate than the one praying.

There are prayers for forgiveness. Most prayers, though, include a part or all of these components. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus talks about praising God and asking for His blessing and safety.

Meditations are found all over the world, especially in Eastern religions. Most of these meditations come from Buddhism and its founder, Siddhartha Gautama, aka Buddha.

Rather than sending thoughts to one God and turning outward, most meditations focus within the person’s soul in order to reach a higher sense of spiritual awareness.

Meditations follow a certain formality; sit in silence and put certain thoughts (or no thoughts) in your mind.

Mindfulness meditation is the most popular meditation because it’s one of the easiest meditations to learn. You sit there and follow your breath.

These are just a few differences. What does science have to say about both?

Scientific Reasoning

Scientific studies on meditations are much more prevalent, possibly because meditations are secular in nature.

Prayers sometimes have a negative connotation, and the prayers for any religion will be different not just from religion to religion, but from denomination to denomination and congregation to congregation.

With the few studies we do have on prayer, here’s what they have to say about prayer:

  • Prayer helps with self-control.
  • Prayer helps with forgiveness.
  • Prayer helps with stress.

Morning Prayer and Meditation to start your day right

Heavenly Father, we Praise You and we thank You for this day. We thank You for being able to see and hear this morning. We are blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God.

You have done so much for us and You keep on blessing us. Most of all, we thank You for our sweet Saviour Lord Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer.

Through Him, His death and Resurrection, we’re washed clean of our sin and brought to eternal life in Your kingdom.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You greatly for Your great sacrifice and enduring all pain and shame for our iniquities.

We thank You for Your love and grace offered upon the cross. We thank You for bringing us into reconciliation with the Father and in everlasting grace and hope of salvation.

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