On Spiritual Disciplines

What is the relationship between meditation and prayer?  How are they the same and how are they different?  In Christian spirituality, meditation is an important part of healthy prayer just as attentive listening and loving presence are important parts of any healthy relationship between friends.  Without reciprocal listening and mutual presence, a friendship is not whole.  Likewise, without times of meditation, prayer is not whole.  We intentionally open ourselves in unguarded vulnerability before God through meditation.  We unpretentiously give our attention and our affection to God through meditation.

While meditation is a very important part of prayer, it is not the whole of prayer, just as listening and presence are not the whole of any friendship.  For the Christian, prayer also includes such things as asking for help and expressing gratitude to God in response to the unfolding events of life.  This can be unspoken, but it can be spoken also.  Prayer can include conflict as one humbly struggles with God over differences in the pursuit of perfectly merging one’s will with the Will of Love.  So prayer involves a rich and interactive friendship with God that ideally includes intentional listening, talking, openness, vulnerability, and presence.  Thus the fabric of prayer is composed of many threads, and meditation introduces vital threads that strengthen and enhance the fabric of prayer.