Prayer or Meditation - Is There a Difference?

BY Lisa Condie        January 6, 2016

“If there is only one prayer you say every day, make it thank you.” - Rumi

Throughout our world, prayer and meditation both structured and free form play major roles in daily life. Does it serve a purpose in your life, and does it serve us to distinguish between them? As a matter of practice, is there a difference?

While those who subscribe to an organized religion will disagree, I am uncomfortable with the notion of traditional prayer. It’s hard for me to fathom a God in the sky that doles out the requested blessings to some, but not others.

I’ve wondered about the determining factors; is it a lack of faith, or does the result rest in doing enough good deeds to warrant the desired outcome? For me, the notion of sending up a prayer to the ultimate gift giver in the sky doesn’t resonate.

My current thinking (as I hope it’s always flexible) has become that prayer is, perhaps, just focused intention. It’s the act of desiring a specific outcome. Could it be that such desire creates the intention in the universe, and the belief of actualization creates the forces that conspire to align circumstances?

The spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti reputedly said, “I used to pray to God, until I realized that I was praying to myself.”  

I am a believer in the power of prayer, and the power of group prayer. Not in the sense that more people asking God will divert his attention their way, but rather, a collective consciousness of desire puts out a wave of energy across the universe.

When I pass someone on the street who is obviously distressed or in need, I send them a prayer of compassion. I silently send light and love to those around the world, known and unknown. My faith is in the energy of compassionate and loving thoughts, rather than requesting such blessings from an all-knowing being. I believe those unseen forces exist in a frontier that we haven’t yet fully realized.

Then, how is meditation different than prayer? Meditation is directed to a higher self, rather than a higher being. It is in the silence of the mind, which taps into the unknown, rewarding those who practice it with greater peace and clarity.

Expansive, silent and deeply focused, meditation asks for nothing… rather, it listens. It listens to silence, to the space between thoughts. It elevates the practitioner to greater self-awareness, more clarity and peacefulness throughout daily life.

“If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world in one generation,” is a famous quote from the Dalai Lama.

This becomes a drastically different statement if the word meditation were to be changed to prayer. Religious people throughout the world pray for their needs and desires to be met, and yet violence and wars persist in the name of religion now as they have throughout history.

Is there one prayer that could be universal, and one meditation that could be used by every person on this planet? Irrespective of belief in religions or even if a deity exists at all, could prayer and meditation intersect at a point, and elevate us all, collectively? Could that prayer/meditation simply be, as Rumi suggested, based in gratitude?

The universal law of attraction must respond to the focused energy of gratitude. Thankfulness for the mere fact that daylight broke through the blackened night once again, and a new breath was taken by those awoke to it.

I like to imagine the change in our world when each person utters two words of prayer, or meditation, upon awakening… ’Thank You’.

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Lisa Condie

Lisa is a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, now living in Florence, Italy. While raising two children, she enjoyed a career in the fitness industry that spanned 32 years. In August of 2012, she sold her home and most of what was in it, left her business, retired her aerobic shoes, said goodbye to friends and family and headed for Tuscany. Lisa owns Find Yourself In Tuscany, a luxury tour company, and is the author of I Found Myself In Tuscany, a memoir of her first three years in Italy. Featured on the Today Show, Lisa was named one of Huffington Post's '50 Over 50', a risk taker who had changed her life for the better. Lisa welcomes groups of women to Tuscany, serves as a travel expert and consultant. Daily and richly, Lisa lives a life that is beyond her wildest dreams! She is a seeker of joy and a believer in serendipity.

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