In what way is meditation different from prayer?


Ordinary prayer consists of addressing our desires, half in belief and half in doubt, to an unknown God. Never pray with disbelief in your heart or with a sense of hopelessness thinking that God will not listen to your prayers. The only way to know God through prayer is by persistence, regularity, and depth of loving effort.

Pray intelligently with a bursting soul and mostly mentally without displaying to anyone what is happening within you. Pray mostly in your own words of love and yearning, not in the borrowed language of others. Pray until you are absolutely certain you have contacted the Divine.  Then demand your material, mental, or spiritual needs as your divine birthright.

Concentration on God
Meditation is very different from the usual prayer. It is concentration used only to know God. During meditation, any vibration sent forth by the ego, or body consciousness helps to revive the consciousness of the body and to dispel the consciousness of the vastness in Spirit.

During deep meditation when the breath becomes calm, a very enjoyable state of peace is produced. However, due to ego-consciousness, the thought of the body returns reviving the breath and arousing material desires and sense distractions. You should not be discouraged at this but, by deeper meditation, learn to calm the breath and the senses.

Never mind if you cannot at first contact God or hear His knock at the gate of your heart. For a long time, you have been running away from Him in the marsh of the senses. It is the noise of your own rowdy passions and the flight of your heavy footsteps that have made you unable to hear His call within. Stop, be calm, meditate deeply, and out of the silence will loom forth the Divine Presence.

God responds to law. All those who conform to the law can test and experience it for themselves. Physical laws are interpreted by the physical senses and judged by the mind. Divine laws are comprehended by concentration, meditation, and intuition. God can never hide from the person who meditates, expresses devotion and love, and sends forth a soul-call. God listens to all soul-calls but He does not always respond in the way that we expect.

Meditate and use your will power steadily day after day, week after week, year after year, until the cosmic silence of the ages is broken and you receive His answer. You will not have to wait for ages, for you will find in deep meditation that God’s spirit of bliss will hover around you and talk to you through the voice of peace.

Don’t remain on the surface of words. Your soul must dive deep into the ocean of perception. God-contact can be accomplished through regular, intense, long-continued meditations. Combine your deepest meditation with your utmost devotion in the silent hours of the night, in seeking an answer to your desires.

When ever-new, ever-increasing joy fills your silence, you will know that you have contacted God and that He is answering through the receiving instrument of your soul.

From Inner Culture, September 1939.