Many people ask if there is a difference between meditation and prayer, it is often a topic of debate amongst meditators and many people leave it open to your own interpretation of meditation and prayer. There are many similarities between meditation and prayer, that is why meditation and prayer are often seen as one and the same practice, but there are also significant differences between the two which do indicate that the practice of meditation and the practice of prayer are not the same practice.
The focus of a meditation practice is to clear your mind of thoughts, embark on a personal journey to learn more about yourself, providing the setting for you to be able to solve deeply ingrained negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself, to gain an understanding of your unique position and purpose in life within the world as a whole and in the universe, to enrich yourself with knowledge, compassion and love for others, to gain a deeper understanding of situations, to be one with the universe, with the higher being, with your chosen God.
The focus of prayer is to communicate with your chosen God, providing the ability for you to ask questions, ask for help, thank God for the good in your life, for the possibilities that are presented to you and to gain a unique one ness with God, to understand his will for your life, and to give yourself to him to be used as a vessel for his teachings.
The similarities between meditation and prayer are where you want to be one with God, with the universe, you want to gain a deeper understanding of your purpose on earth, you develop a deeper love for the universe and everything in it, and in both practices you are alone, although there are group sessions for both meditation and prayer, the purpose of each practice is to be a personal practice, to be alone.
Prayer can lead to a meditative state, especially if you use a specific prayer as a mantra, repeating the same prayer over and over, in the same manner that you would repeat a mantra in a strictly meditative session. Although the two practices are exclusively unique, they are similar, one can easily say that they are praying, yet they are meditating, or begin their meditation practice with a prayer session.
The term ‘meditation’ or ‘meditate’ has been used all over the world, across all religions and traditional practices, but meditation has also been clouded by negativity in various religious circles because of how traditional meditators sit and chant the ‘Om’ which many people believe is delving into the occult.
Whether you want to term your practice meditation or prayer is up to you, being able to sit down in a quiet place for a few minutes a day and focus only on the one positive thought or the one object, that allows you to clear your mind and relax, providing all the benefits both mentally and physically, that you experience, is what is important, so don’t worry about the label, just focus on the journey and the experience of that journey!