The Use of Prayer in Meditation
Few practices bring us closer to communion with the Divine as can the practice of meditation. I have been a regular meditator for over 40 years, and have experienced the direct benefits of meditation on many levels, including physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Not everyone can accept that there is, in fact, some kind of Divine Being and I greatly respect that stance. It is a stretch of belief for many people and is really a question of faith. This question can be argued out intellectually too, and many philosophers have attempted to contend the point either for or against the existence of a Divine Being for countless centuries right up to modern times.
But that aside, if God does not exist, then you have nothing to gain or lose by praying; on the other hand, if some kind of Deity does exist, then you may have absolutely everything to gain by praying. Either way, there is no real loss to you, and the positive effects of engaging in prayer (even if they are merely a placebo effect) are enormously beneficial.
Prayer, as a tool which connects us to the assumed Divine Source, is very effective when used as part of regular meditative practice. The reasons for this are that;
1) You are aligning yourself with the Divine within, entering into deep communion with that Divine Source, which thus places you en-rapport with it. You are not so much asking, as communing. It's more of a partnership than a prayerful petitioning.
2) Through the regular practice of meditation, you are developing detachment from any particular outcome and are thus handing over your prayer without any necessary attachment to what happens. It becomes a case of Thy Will Be Done, not mine, releasing any unnecessary need for a particular result, and recognising that we, as the little 'i' may not be able to see far enough ahead to know what the best outcome should be.
How to Pray in Meditation
Some of the reasons why prayers seem to go unanswered are because of the false ideas about God which have been instilled in us since childhood; people pray to a God whom they fear and whom, in reality, they don’t really like or understand. They feel cut off from the Divine Source, for God has been cast as a remote and impossibly demanding tyrant existing far from humanity who can only be reached through mortifying intercessions.
People often rush about in their daily life and any kind of prayer that is sent out is often when the mind is in an agitated state, full of doubts, worries and fears. If that kind of mental and emotional vibration is attached to the prayer, then the returning energy will only correspond to a similar vibration of deep angst.
In order to be in harmony with your prayer, you need to find the necessary alignment that will place you in a good-feeling place first. Jesus hints at this when he said that when we pray we should go into a room alone and close the door and pray in secret. The idea behind this is to get away from outer distractions and the thoughts, opinions and emotions of others. You need to create a harmonious state of mind first.
Your prayers during meditation will have a hundredfold or more potency than the everyday humdrum mumblings of so-called prayerful petitions which arise from fear and negativity and which are said in half-belief without any prior attunement.
You may pray at the start of your meditation session, or reserve your prayers for near the end, when the mind should be more stilled and receptive. We need to be receptive in order to receive assistance. The Divine never withholds anything. It is we who do that, by putting up doubts and a multitude of fears. If you wish, you may even pray at the beginning and at the end of the meditation if that helps you to feel more aligned. But keep the prayer simple and keep the mind and heart focussed on the intent of the prayer; that's the real secret.
Send out the prayer as you see fit without being too wordy. Then let it go. Don’t plead or beg ~ that suggests an inward fear and doubt that the prayer will ever be answered, and it also implies feelings of unworthiness as well as a core belief in an unjust God.
Become active in producing the result of the prayer by affirming and invoking the prayer by visualising what you seek. Make it real. Ask with belief, and know that it will come to pass. If you need money, for example, ask for it. Try visualising what it would feel like to receive the money you need. If work is an issue, or a relationship, ask to be shown the solution. Feel good about receiving that thing, whatever it may be.
The Buddha Smile
In your prayer time, allow a gentle smile to play about the lips; I call this the Buddha Smile. The mouth is closed, but the lips express a trace of a smile, just by turning up the edges at the corners of the mouth. This act alone will create a positive feeling in your brain, as the nerves in the face are linked into the brain and when we smile, the nerves trigger a response in the brain's chemistry which releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones.
Send your prayer out into the vast reservoir of the Universe, (holding your sweet Buddha Smile) on a deep inward breath. Feel that the breath ascends to the crown of the head as a palpable energy, like warm sunlight. Feel it ascend upwards and outwards from the top of the head, radiating like a brilliant and golden sun. Know that your prayer is already answered, even as you send it out.
Praying Hands Posture
You might also like to use the Praying Hands Posture, sometimes known as the Gesture of Greeting. This practice is commonly seen in the East, particularly in countries like India, where people greet one another with the hands held with palms together over the heart, and often there is an accompanying bow and sometimes the fingertips are touched to the lips.
The concept behind this gesture is of greeting the soul and moreover, the Godhead which resides in every individual. We respect the Divine in one another. In prayer, this gesture is one of bringing heart and mind together as one, centering the energy of the prayer in the heart, and with the head slightly bowed, there is also reverence for the entire process.
This gesture in meditation can help to provide an extra sense of at-one-ment with the object of your prayer and therefore a link to the Creator and giver of all life. You may leave your palms together at the centre of the chest for as long as the prayer lasts, and for some time afterwards, if it feels appropriate and comfortable.
The Answer to Your Prayer
When we send out a prayer, several things combine to make it potent; two of those things, as observed above, are the alignment necessary and the handing-it-over to a Higher Power. We also have the practical gesture of the prayer position of the hands and the Buddha Smile to create the atmosphere needed which is conducive to the prayer.
But we must not think that the prayer will of necessity be answered in exactly the way that we request it. That would be a mistaken concept to hold. In fact, your prayer may even be answered in a manner which you never ever expected. However it comes, whatever the response, in whatever way it appears, it will always be for the best. We must be fully aware of that. There is an Intelligence at work in the Universe which is far greater and wiser than our own limited finite minds. The answer, whichever way it comes, will always be the right one.
An example might be, that someone wants a relationship with a particular person, but the Universal Consciousness, the Godhead, knows that there is a better match for you, one which you may not yet have come into contact with, or even considered. Try as you might, pray as hard as you will, you can't get that person that you desire.
Let it go. If the other person is truly in alignment with you, either Karmically, or harmoniously in some other way, then a dynamic aspect between you will be created, or may already exist; if it's truly meant to be, nothing can prevent it, and even strange coincidences will force you to come together!
If your prayer concerns work, or a career choice, or even the right home and environment for you, put it out into the Universe on a prayer, just feeling good about the outcome. The way will be shown to you, the answer given, the door will be opened. It won't always fit the picture that you have in your mind or what you think it should involve.
It seems to me, that the Divine loves to surprise us; allow the Divine to answer your prayer in the way that is best suited to your current evolution and consciousness. It will always, always be best for you.
Jesus taught us about prayer:
"Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For to him that asks, he shall receive, to him that seeks, he shall find, and to all who knock, the door shall be opened to them."
That really is the essence of true prayer. You will never not receive an answer. But be prepared for an answer that may be different from your preconceived expectations. The Universe (Godhead) knows best.
When we pray like this, we commune with the Godhead. In the silence of our meditations, we hear God's reply.