I was recently listening to a lecture on YouTube by Eckhart Tolle, truly one of the most inspirational teachers in our modern times, and I’d like to share some interesting distinctions between 3 different types of prayer. And it’s interesting to note the similarities between prayer and meditation.
The most basic form of prayer is where the petitioner prays to a God outside of themselves and asks for a specific favour. This type of prayer operates on the level of duality where there is a psychological distinction between the self of the petitioner and God.
More advanced prayers, but still operating on the level of duality, are Affirmations: When you pray feel as though you already have it, visualise the desired outcome. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, wrote that thoughts mixed with strong emotions can have a very powerful and definite effect.
Then there are the most advanced forms of prayer where the petitioner does not look for themselves in the outcome nor do they look for any form of self fulfilment. This seems to be the best form of prayer, because there seems to be no intervening ego that interferes with the strength of the request. In fact Buddhists or other practitioners of meditation would simply recognise this as just that, Meditation. The Metta Bhavana (Loving Kindness) meditation in Buddhism is one example of such prayer (or meditation). – eg. May all beings be well and happy. This kind of prayer opens up a door in the mind of the petitioner and brings them into an awareness of stillness. What matters here is the stillness and not the result. To quote the Old Testament: “Be still and know that I am God.”