When you call a friend for help, do you pick up the phone, explain your problem and then hang up before they give you an answer?
Of course not, right? That’s crazy. You’re calling because you need help.
So then. Tell me why you pray but you don’t meditate.
Let’s think about that for a second. I was raised Catholic, I attended St. Thomas Aquinas school as a kid, and I learned all about prayers. Class started with a prayer. There was a prayer before lunch. We closed the school day with a prayer. On Fridays we attended mass. At home I prayed when I woke up in the morning, we (usually) said grace before dinner, and I prayed before I went to sleep. Mass was on Saturdays and Sundays, and I often attended both days because of my choir and song leading responsibilities.
So… Yeah. I know a few things about prayer. However, I didn’t learn anything about meditation. In all those years, I learned absolutely NOTHING about meditation. (Please someone explain to me why I grew up praying up to 10 times a day, but I never learned the other half of prayer – listening for the answer.)
…maybe I wouldn’t have needed to pray so much if I just stayed on the line… 😉
The title of this blog is a little misleading. I wrote prayer “versus” meditation. I did that on purpose. I wanted to get you thinking about your pre-programmed thoughts about what prayer is and what meditation is. Now I want to explain what each is and what each isn’t.
Typically, prayer sets an intention. You state your wishes, desires, hopes, and you may take the time to worship or thank a deity like God or your higher self for what you’ve received. That’s what prayer is. Prayer isn’t listening for the answer. Also, prayer isn’t just for religious people – contrary to popular belief.
Meditation is a technique to quiet your mind’s chatter so you can freely experience a state of being which transcends all thoughts, emotions and experiences. You don’t typically set an intention in meditation. Quieting the mind allows you to be in touch with your inner spirit, the greater Self, the Holy Spirit, the voice of God, or whatever you want to call it. Meditation isn’t just for hippies, and no you don’t have to be a religious person to get the full benefits of meditation.
As you can see prayer and meditation are very complimentary. So complimentary in fact that in ancient writings describing acts of devotion, it’s difficult to tell whether people are praying or meditating, or just bouncing between the two.
So then: if you’re going to phone a friend and ask for help, you should stay on the line, quiet yourself, and be still while you wait for the answer. Right?