I do not want to start a fight about God, religion, science, etc, but you must understand that hypnagogic or hypnopompic or any other such sleep disorders and hallucinations can and do occur as a result of meditation and sensory deprivation. Prayer is same as meditation and both of those are forms of sensory deprivation.
Hypnagogic Hallucinations Causes and Types
Hypnagogic hallucinations have been reported of various causes like auditory, visual or tactile and the reports also vary in their content from religious type of reports with devils and demons to completely abstract shapes and objects (same for sounds and feelings).
hypnagogic hallucinations demons
What I am saying is not against any religion or science, but people who report seeing God or having some divine experience could either be truly having that or they could be having hallucinations due to sensory deprivation and there is absolutely no way of telling the difference like there is no way, during sleep, to tell the difference between the sleep world (dreams) and the real world.
Meditation, Sleep-State, Prayer Have Hallucination Potential in Common
When people practice meditation often the goal is what the Chinese call the WuJi state, which is the state of complete nothingness, unable to hear any sound from the outside world and in complete focus without the intention of focus in the inner world. That is the ultimate achievement of meditation and it is said many things can be learned and developed in that state.
woman praying monk meditating
When practicing to reach the WuJi state people have to relax to a great extent and reach the level of relaxation which is associated with the theta brainwaves. In simple terms this means the brain state below regular awake state and just above the deep sleep state (delta wavelengths). The time right before we fall asleep and right after we wake up is very similar to this meditation practice.
Prayer is a form of meditation where either through silence or through repetition of mantras the person enters a similar state as described above. The difference with regular meditation is that in the prayer you use God and religion to achieve concentration and this special brain state and in meditation one is free to choose whatever belief or can have no belief of any kind at all.
So meditation, prayer and sleep state are brain conditions which are similar to when a person is deprived of his or her senses and there is plenty of research which proves that sensory deprivation leads to hallucinations, out of which at least some can be similar tohypnagogic hallucinations.
Researches Show That Sensory Deprivation Causes Hallucinations
sensory deprivation hypnagogic hallucinations
October 2009 (I think), Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease publishes research where it is proven that just 15 minutes of sensory deprivation results in hallucinations in participants*
Similar research done in 1950-1960 (less tech. advanced) already proved the same*
2004 – study published proving that just with a blindfold, after 96 hours participants experienced hallucinations*
(*Above study references I found on the Mindhacks website.)
Final words on Hypnagogic Hallucinations Causes | Meditation & Sensory Deprivation
I think it is important not to get lost in the religion/science debate but just look at the facts which prove that sensory deprivation can lead to sleep disorders like hypnagogic hallucinations and other similar experiences.