What is meditation and contemplation within Christianity?

Meditation and contemplation were deeply imbedded practices within the Jewish tradition as evidenced in '... be still and know that I am God'. Psalm 46.

Within Christianity meditation is considered a discursive or kataphatic practice where we use our mind to ponder on a text or something similar. Contemplation refers to those times when we pray without images or thoughts of God. Rather we rest in God's loving presence that saturates all things, and we come to know God as the Ground of our own being. Contemplation is considered an apophatic practice and frequently meditation precedes contemplation. In Christian texts today, contemplation and meditation are sometimes used interchangeably as it is acknowledged that it can be difficult to 'know' when one begins and the other ends.

While very little is recorded of how Jesus prayed, it was evident by the fruits of His life that He was well steeped in contemplative practices. The desert fathers and mothers carried the practices on and they have been picked up by many mystics since. Contemplative prayer or meditation has re-emerged in the last 40 years initially in the monasteries and then outside of them and it is the transforming power of these practices that leads Christians to follow them today.