Sometimes people ask me what is the difference between prayer and meditation. I usually answer that prayer is about us talking to God and meditation is about stillness and about making space to be with God and God speaking to us.
This is true but there is also a difference in our mindset. There are many types of prayer but often prayer simply becomes about getting something from God, whereas meditation is simply about being with God.
This sounds like a minor difference but is actually massively different. In one we come to God anxious and with all our requests, desperately hoping God will do or change or fix something for us. In the other, we come to God (not necessarily peace-filled to begin with) but our focus is on Him until the point where we are no longer anxious and we are able to say “God, I let all other things go, because I know you will work it out and I simply want to enjoy being in your presence”.
This is what meditating on God is about.
In Mark chapter 4 verse 39, the Bible tells the story of when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples in the middle of a storm. Jesus stood up and said “Peace! Be still!”
It is generally understood that Jesus was speaking to the storm, which is true, but I can’t help thinking that He was also speaking to those on board the boat.
Their hearts had become panicked and fearful. With authority Jesus commanded the storm to be still and with love, compassion and comfort He spoke to their fearful hearts.
The Pulpit commentary on this verse likens it to the storms of the soul.
If you are feeling panicked and fearful about something at the moment, I know Jesus is saying to you “Peace, Be still”.
But how do you really do that in the midst of the storms in your life and the storms in your soul?
That’s where meditating on God comes in.
If you have been following my blog for a while you will have heard me say that sometimes our prayers simply become a case of us blabbing all our fears to God. And this is not good because God is not activated by fear. God is activated by faith.
That is when it is better to come aside with God in peace and stillness and instead of focussing on the worries and troubles that you have, set them aside for a while to focus on God. My favourite scripture for doing this is Colossians 3:1-3.
I come into my meditation time and still myself internally and externally and remind myself of this scripture.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”
Instead of focussing on my worries and problems, I spend my time in meditation focussing on Jesus. I set my eyes, heart and mind on Him.
And I stay there until peace comes and fear goes.
Alicia Chole (a well-known Christian author) calls this “Periphery Prayer”. She says that if we hold our worries and fears behind us it is denial, if we hold them in front of us then we are hyper-focussed on them. But if we put them to the side and look up to Jesus, then we are not denying they are still there but our eyes are on the One who can give us peace and bring peace to the situation.
Before Jesus spoke those famous words “Peace, Be still!” His disciples were in a state of fear and panic. They said to Jesus “Teacher don’t you care that we are going to die?” because it seemed like Jesus was not doing anything about the storm but I have found that it is only when our hearts are in a state of peace that Jesus then speaks to the storm around us and says “Peace! Be Still!”
It is only when we come into His presence and set aside our fears and worries and focus on Him; it’s when we say “I’m going to set those things aside that are worrying me and I am going to focus on God” that not only does peace come into our heart but answers are released too. This is because it takes faith to set aside our worries and trust that God will take care of things for us – and faith is what activates God. That’s when Jesus can stand up in the midst of our situation and speak to the storm and say “Peace, Be Still”.
Praying this helps you this week. Look forward to seeing you again next time.