How is Meditation Different from Prayer?

A question for the spiritual father of St Elisabeth Convent

Q:There are popular videos on YouTube propagating "special mindfulness methods", which you need to listen to for several days in a row, twice a day. If you do so, they promise that you can get something you want, or be lucky and enjoy various benefits in life. I tried listening to the mantras several times, and then I wondered if I was allowed to listen to them at all. I tried to find out if meditation and Orthodox prayer could coexist, but I found different answers. Could you please clarify this question?

Helena

A: I don't think you should ever watch that video channel again. It's all a devilish mix of temptations, such as promises of wealth, good luck, and fulfillment of desires: just engage with the devil, and you are going to have everything. It resembles the temptation of Christ in the wilderness: All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me (Matthew 4:9; cf. Matthew 4:8).

Of course, this is quackery and deception.

Meditation is when a person attempts to climb into the Heaven using his own power and pride. Where is he going to climb, who will meet him there? Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) once wrote that going to the astral plane without repentance is fatal for a proud soul.

Meanwhile, prayer is all about trust in God. The Lord does not promise us any blessings on this earth. By contrast, He says, "Great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12). We are here on earth to fight for prayer, among other things. Above all, prayer must be humble and contrite. We are conscious that we do not deserve charity, but we ask God for mercy and love – and God hears us.

We do not pray for prosperity, for worldly blessings. We pray for the Lord to have mercy on our souls, to heal them, and not to leave us without love in eternity.

May 28, 2019

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