Is meditation the same thing as prayer? I have a friend who says she meditates a lot and finds it helpful, but when I asked her if this meant she was actually praying, she wasn't able to give me a clear answer.
No, meditation is not the same as prayer. For Christians, prayer involves our minds and hearts, because when we pray we are actively praising or thanking God, or asking God to act in a specific way. When a Christian prays, the Bible says, “I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).
From what you say elsewhere in your letter, your friend has become involved in a type of meditation in which a person seeks to empty their mind of all thoughts, which is the opposite of prayer. The goal (as I understand it) is to free the mind from worries and anxieties, and this may seem successful for a time.
But whatever has caused the worries or anxieties may still be present, and this is why we need God. God loves us and He wants to lift our burdens and help us deal with our problems. And He will, as we turn in faith to Christ and learn to commit our burdens into His hands. The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Pray for your friend, that she may find true peace — the peace God offers us in Christ. Christ came to bring us peace — peace in our hearts, peace with others, and most of all, peace with God. Has His peace become a part of your life?