As Calanon (Why that pseudonym, and should I address you by your actual name, and will anyone else even read this?) said in his post “God: The Third Person”, our concept of prayer is woefully lacking.
I encourage you all to read “The practice of the presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. Here is a quote from it:
It is a “serious mistake to think of our prayer time as being different from any other. Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities, just as our prayer unites us with Him in our quiet time.”
Another quote, this time from http://www.christinyou.net
“In this restoration of the Spirit of God to the spirits of men (cf. Gen. 2:7), so that men might function as God intended in His creative design, there is effected a spiritual union whereby we become “one spirit” with Christ (I Cor. 6:17). This is not a psychological union whereby we keep Jesus in our thoughts and consciousness, nor is it a moral union whereby we are obliged to seek to conform to Jesus’ example. Rather, it is a spiritual union whereby deity dwells and functions in man; Christ in the Christian. Jesus illustrated this spiritual condition to Nicodemus in the analogy of a “new birth,” a spiritual regeneration whereby one is “born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-6).”
And from Scripture, we must “pray without ceasing”.
But what of the Lord’s Prayer? It seems very specific, cultural, and template-like. Is it a ritual prayer, almost, or should we bend it to absorb other prayers, as a model? This Prayer is the center of the Sermon on the Mount, the largest collection of Jesus teachings in terms of one session. It must be important. My Bible teacher from last year is doing a thesis or doctorate or something on the Lord’s Prayer. I should ask him more about it.
How do all of these come together to form one common idea? At its core, prayer is communication. We can all agree, I assume. How much can we say “Prayer works”, in that when we pray miracles happen. If so, it is all about helping others and we should be praying a lot for the whole world. But if prayer is mainly to transform us – God knows, but we need to hear our own prayers – then we should focus on the spiritual experience of God and confessing and praising and thanking. But, if it is broader, it can encompass both. So this isn’t a dichotomy.
But if Prayer is simple communication, why would Jesus say “This is how you should pray”? Is he giving us guidelines for what to talk about, or is it how to talk to God? Are these topics and the order of them an important formality?
Why are Prayer and Meditation similar? They both are lowering self, slowing self, broadening perspective. But I think that they are different. Now some quotes from “Be Here Now”, by Ram Dass:
“When the mind perceives an object it is transformed into the shape of that object. So the mind which thinks of the Divinity which it worships (Ista-devata) is at length, through continued devotion, transformed into the likeness of that Devata.” ~ Woodroffe
“The one thing I wish for is to be alone, and all by myself to pray, to pray without ceasing: and doing this I am filled with joy.” ~ Way of a Pilgrim
“After no great lapse of time I had the feeling that the Prayer had, so to speak, by its own action passed from my lips to my heart. Further, there came into my heart a gracious warmth.” ~ Way of a Pilgrim
“If the enemy cannot turn us from prayer by means of vain thoughts and sinful ideas, then he brings back into our minds good things we have been taught, and fills us with beautiful ideas, so that one way or another he may lure us away from prayer, which is a thing he cannot bear. It is called ‘a theft from the right hand side.’ He taught me therefore not to admit during times of prayer even the most lofty of spiritual thoughts. And if I saw that in the course of the day time had been spent more in improving thought and talk than in actual prayer of the heart then I was to think of it as a loss of the sense of proportion or a sign of spiritual greed.” ~ Way of a Pilgrim
“Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer…” ~ Way of a Pilgrim
That was prayer, now a quote on meditation by Ram Dass himself: “The term meditation is used in such a variety of ways that it may mean anything from daydreaming or musing, to deliberating about a topic, to a specific discipline of working with the mind that can be so exact that every act of body and thought is prescribed. The way in which the term meditation is used in yoga is in the more formal and disciplined sense. As such it is distinguished from reflection or contemplation. It includes two processes: making the mind concentrated or one-pointed, and bringing to total cessation the turning of the mind.”
What types of meditation can complement the previous exposition of prayer?