What is prayer?
Prayer is communication. It is a movement towards communion. It is a celebration of relationship with being.
Is prayer always about God?
It is a relationship with something higher and greater than oneself. God means many different things to different people. As the relationship unfolds and evolves, its form and meaning will change. It is a process of discovery, if you allow it. The name does not matter very much.
Perhaps it begins with an idea or a picture. In time, in my experience, what you pray to becomes who you pray to.
How do you pray? Is there a method?
How do you develop a friendship? Does it not require your care and attention? Does it not summon your presence into the present? Prayer asks you to bring all that you can. Are you able to bring your thinking, sensing and feeling to the encounter? Perhaps not at first but with practice and the guidance that comes within the prayer experience, you may be able to bring all that you have. There is no formula. You must begin where you are, as who you are. No pretences. But as a general rule, humility is always a good place to start.
What about praying for things you need or others need?
You are developing a relationship. What do you want from it?
Are you sure that you know what is needed?
Asking implies humility and a willingness to accept help. Often, friends like to be asked to help. However, praying for things may bring worldly cares into a place where you are able to be without them and experience a different reality. Find out for yourself.
What is the difference between prayer and contemplation?
I do not think there’s a practical difference. As it develops, prayer becomes a subtle exchange which in some traditions is referred to as contemplation. The experience is characterized by the feeling of being seen and recognized as your essential being. The Sufis call this mushahada which I like to think of as mutual regarding or mutual observing. At times, the quality of seeing, what is seen and who is seeing may merge and become indistinguishable.