DEAR REV. GRAHAM: My friend is pushing me to go to a class with her that teaches some kind of meditation as the answer to stress. I gather it helps you empty your mind of all thoughts, and that gives you inner peace. Is this the same as prayer? —K.R.
Dear K.R.: No, it isn't the same as prayer. When we pray, we aren't denying our worries and problems, or pretending they don't exist (which is what this class apparently attempts to do). Instead, we face them and bring them to God.
Think of it this way. Suppose you were carrying a large basket loaded with rocks. It wasn't only heavy; it was almost more than you could handle. What could you do? Well, you might try to talk yourself into thinking it really wasn't heavy after all; you might even try to take your mind off it by thinking about something else. But your burden would still be there; nothing had changed.
Then suppose someone came along who saw the strain you were under and offered to carry the basket for you. You saw he was stronger than you were, and he genuinely cared about you and wanted to help you. What would you do? You know the answer; it would be foolish to refuse his help.
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This is what we do when we pray: We bring our burdens to God — and leave them there. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Don't be misled, but turn to Jesus and give your life — and your burdens — to Him. He loves you, and only He can give us the peace we seek — peace with God, peace in our hearts, and peace with others.