Differences and similarities between prayer and meditation

Two friends

There are many similarities and some differences between prayer and meditation. They are both tools to aid in stress management and spiritual growth.

Both practices have the effect of lowering your heart rate and breathing. This results in a decrease in stress. Both forms of practice have a meditative effect.

In this article, we’re going to explore these two friends who, hand in hand, are good for our body, heart and mind.

Note: To watch the video of this article, click here to go at the end of the post.

Definition of prayer

According to Le Larousse, prayer “is a ritual act by which we address a deity or his intercessors. It is a set of formulas, generally codified, by which we address God. ”

Prayer can have a religious connotation, but it is not mandatory. It is a connection to ourselves and to a higher entity. It can be God, life, the universe, our deceased loved ones, or whatever entity you believe in.

In this article, I discuss the positive and beneficial side of prayer in general and used favorably. I do not talk about any religions.

Definition of meditation

According to the dictionary Le Larousse, there are three definitions. Meditation is the act of reflecting, of thinking deeply about a subject, of the realization of something. For example, this work is the fruit of his meditations. It is also an attitude of being absorbed in deep reflection, that is, of immersing oneself in meditation. As a final definition, it is the concentration of body and mind on a religious theme or symbol.

According to Wikipedia, the term meditation refers to a mental practice that generally consists of paying attention to a certain object, at the level of thought, emotions, and the body. In a spiritual approach, it can be an exercise, even a way of Self-realization and awakening.

In our current era, meditation is a set of techniques used in order to refocus, find inner peace and better manage stress. The result is self-exploration, well-being and spiritual growth.

Let’s explore the similarities and differences between prayer and meditation

Attention and request

  • In the prayer, the attention is focused on the recitation of a known prayer or on one-sided communication with God, a higher entity or a deceased relative, for example. In the meditation, the attention is focused on the body, on the breath, on mindfulness, or on an object of visualization such as the chakras.
  • Regarding to the prayer, we request something for ourselves or for others. For example, asking for forgiveness or praying for a loved one who is sick. In the meditation, we are searching for answers within ourselves.

Religious connotation

  • The prayer has a religious connotation but it is not an obligation to practice a religion in order to pray. For example, we can pray to loved ones who have passed away without it being linked to a religion.
  • Mantras are a form of prayer. For example, the Buddhist prays for the awakening of all sentient beings and for the eradication of suffering.
  • The Prayer of Serenity is a good example of a prayer that is not used for religious purposes. Coming from the philosopher Aristotle, it can suit everyone, regardless of beliefs.
  • The meditation has less religious connotation but still can be related to a religion. Because it is less related to religion, it is now a popular practice. In our occidental societies, people tend to turn their practice to meditation instead of prayer because less people practice a religion the traditional way.

Beliefs

  • With God or any high entity, we believe that we are not alone and that God loves us as we are.
  • Prayer gives hope and comfort.
  • In the meditation, we believe that we are part of a whole, and therefore, that we are not alone but connected to the universe, to nature and to others.
  • Prayer can lead to meditation, or inner reflection to understand the aspect of this prayer.

Effects

  • Prayer brings compassion, altruism, inner peace.
  • Meditation brings inner peace as well. It opens the connection to ourselves and to the universe. By meditating, it is possible to work on compassion and altruism with positive affirmations, for example.
  • The prayer provides appeasement through recitation and the feeling of being listened to, understood, heard and loved.
  • In meditation, we find appeasement through breathing, relaxation, visualization and mindfulness techniques and exercises.
  • Prayer becomes a cry from the heart when needing help. Meditation is focused on the training of the mind.
  • The repetition of the prayer and meditation exercises can lead to trance.
  • Prayer and meditation have a calming effect.

Prayer or meditation?

Whether you are a practitioner of prayer, meditation, or both, these two practices are excellent tools for personal and spiritual growth. Both can be a part of our lives, with or without religious connotations. No matter what your beliefs, prayer and meditation have a beneficial effect on our physical, mental and emotional health.

I offer the narration of a prayer and text that I like, Life is Life from Mother Theresa on Youtube.

Also, you will find guided meditations that you can buy here or you can listen to them on Youtube.

May your life be filled with colors, music, joy and loving kindness.

Chantal

To learn which are the 5 most popular types of meditation, read the article here.

Sources : Larousse, Wikipedia, Bouddhiste.net, passeport-sante.net

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Video version