Here are some insights I recently had about my personal experience of prayer:
Prayer is not about telling God what you want, or asking God how to solve a problem. Prayer is about aligning yourself with the direction and process of Creation. When we pray effectively we are allowing ourselves to be guided into a state of mind that is receptive to what is beyond our imagining and conditioning.
Whether you relate to God as a supernatural all knowing being, the unseen and unknown force of creation, or a mythic figure of human hope, you are still attempting to put yourself within the energy field of creation and renewal when you pray.
Examine carefully the personal relationship you have with your concept of the creator or generator of all that is. Are you still carrying baggage from long ago that inhibits you from aligning with a more inclusive power? Do you believe that God is a crutch for cowards afraid to face the realities of the lonely dilemma and intellectual challenges as humans? It doesn’t matter. It works just as well to tell the unknown all that you don’t believe in as well as what you do believe. Perhaps you were raised with a cozy, very personal God who has become too small to deal with the complexities of the planetary and interplanetary condition. I have found prayer to be as much an adventure into the unknown as it is a cry for help with situations beyond our control.
Remember that emotion drives all human decisions and actions even though it is sometimes disguised. Our motives and processes are driven by emotion, so it is emotion that we use in prayer. It is not desperate emotion or fear driven emotion necessarily that is effective in prayer, however, but the emotion driving commitment and courage. It is the willingness to take a chance and move into an unknown state.
Meditation differs from prayer. Some folks believe that meditation is superior to prayer because it attempts to align us with the processes of higher consciousness and is not driven (hopefully) by egoistic motives and often prayer is. But I believe prayer puts what we learn in meditation and reflection into practical application in our lives. It gives us the opportunity to become co-creators of the reality we must live in. However, there is ultimately a crossover between meditation and prayer that is fuzzy and best left that way.