Meditation vs Prayer

Meditation vs Prayer Cover Image

Michael Washington

To pray is the practice of communion with God and usually involves components such as confession, thanksgiving, and intercession (praying for the needs of others).  Meditation is a form of spiritual practice based on focused attention restrained in its use of words or images. Whereas prayer is conceptualized in terms of your relationship with God, meditation does not necessarily make theistic assumptions but both are useful to help you resolve your problems and to look beyond yourself.

Both, prayer and meditation can raise several issues for the science-religion discussion. The growth and outcome questions about the extent of their benefits and process will always be a question of mediation. However, there is no question that the effects of intercessory prayer for those prayed for and meditation for those who practice them can yield enormous benefits.

The effects of a prayerful heart can be seen as a special case of divine attributes and one in which divine action is triggered or facilitated by prayer, which raises the theological conundrum of why God should act in response to prayer rather than acting on God’s own initiative.  It can be theologically objectionable to suppose God is unaware of human needs or not motivated to respond unless prayer occurs. It is also objectionable to suppose God is powerless to act without human prayer, though it is perfectly acceptable to suggest, out of voluntary self-restraint, God might prefer to act in conjunction with prayerful initiatives.

Unlike prayer, meditation can draw from a power within ourselves. Prayer could be seen as establishing a union of wills between human beings and God whereas meditation provides a source outside of God to establish an equilibrium between mind and body. Science provides a source of analogies for how both can be of benefit. For example, it may be analogous to a nuclear resonance with meditation, or a kind of atonement with prayer. That said, you can meditate but make praying a habit, it’s beneficial and therapeutic not to mention, you draw closer to God.