Meditation vs Prayer – What’s the difference?
What’s the difference between meditation and prayer?
Meditation and prayer both give rewarding, positive, and therapeutic results. Although they are closely related, yet there is a little difference between them.
The primary difference can be described as – meditation is a practice which helps us go within ourselves in search of inner peace and bliss. Whereas prayer is an outward expression of our faith, belief, or love towards someone or something.
But what does it actually mean and how are they interconnected?
In this article, I will try to dig a little deeper and shed some light on this topic.
Let’s begin with Meditation.
Meaning: Meditation is all about focusing on our mind and watching our thoughts as they come and go.
Goal: The ultimate goal is to reach a state of mind which is calm, peaceful, and blissful. This can be achieved by raising/awakening our inner consciousness by going within and witnessing our thoughts and emotions.
Technique: This can be done by following any of the different techniques available such as concentrating on our breath, chanting a mantra or focusing on an object (such as candle), etc.
Summary: Meditation is a tool which helps us to increase our self-awareness and to reach a higher sense of spiritual awakening.
Meditation makes us realize that the true happiness which we are seeking outside actually lies within us.
It ultimately leads us to reach a state where we can free ourselves from all the worldly desires and live happily without having to run after external pleasures.
Now, let’s have a look at Prayer.
Meaning: Prayer is a way to express our devotion, love, or gratitude towards someone or something. In prayer, we try to develop a relationship with the divine. We look on the divine as our dearest friend, parent, or master.
Goal: In prayer, we try to please or communicate with the divine or a deity in a specific manner.
Technique: The foremost requirement for prayer is the presence of faith, belief or devotion without which a prayer would become mere chanting of words. It should not necessarily be based on intellectual understanding.
Summary: Prayer is generally practiced to change something unpleasant or intolerable in the external world. We can also say that prayer is goal-oriented and is about seeking some favor from God or divine.
There are many reasons one might pray, but usually these reasons center around the need to receive help from a higher power thereby relieving a sense of helplessness.
Now let’s have a side-by-side look at the common differences.
- In meditation, there is no God or deity to please or to talk to. In prayer, we think about God or a deity with whom we try to communicate.
- Silence is necessary during meditation. Silence is not necessary during prayer.
- Meditation is practiced in many religions in different forms; however, it is largely considered as a secular practice. Prayer is present in all the major religions and is not considered as a secular practice.
- One does not necessarily need to have an objective to meditate. Prayer is generally goal oriented.
- Our body posture plays a vital role in both. One type of body posture is universally followed during meditation which is called “dhyan mudra.” All religions follow different types of body posture during prayer.
Several scientific studies have suggested the benefits of meditation and prayer on health and overall well-being.
The one big difference between meditation and prayer is that the former is internal and the latter is external.
More than faith, meditation is about increasing our consciousness and thus achieving inner peace, mindfulness and harmony with one’s self. Prayer, on the other hand, gives a ray of hope.
Despite having all these differences, meditation and prayer both can bring transformative changes to our lives in their own way.
Consistent practice does produce tangible results whether it is a simple expression of gratitude in prayer or a quick 10-minute session of meditation.