How do you cope with uncertainty? What is your source of strength? What is your go-to coping mechanism or practice?
In times of crisis, I turn to prayerful meditation.
Prayerful meditation keeps me grounded, centered, shielded, and aligned with my highest purpose. It keeps me focused during times of uncertainty like a compass or a GPS device. Otherwise, I might lose my way. Can you relate?
What is “prayerful meditation?”
“Prayerful meditation” is the term I like to use for a simple, personalized prayer with components of meditation built in. In most of my own prayerful meditations, I’m directly addressing my higher power, then practicing meditation while in the Divine Presence.
For me, there is a clear distinction between prayer and meditation. I find great wisdom in the old saying that “prayer is when you talk to God and meditation is when you listen.”I find great wisdom in the old saying that 'prayer is when you talk to God and meditation is when you listen.'Click To Tweet
Prayer and meditation are similar, yet different
Whenever I discuss the idea of prayerful meditation, someone wants to know, “What’s the difference between prayer and meditation?” While many people consider prayer and meditation to be the exact same thing, others maintain they have nothing in common.
In terms of similarities, I find that prayer and meditation both are highly effective ways of focusing my attention and intention. One of the biggest differences is that prayer requires a belief in a higher power while meditation, in its most basic forms, does not.Both prayer and meditation are highly effective ways of focusing my attention and intention.Click To Tweet
I’ll stop there to keep things simple. And yes, I realize this is an oversimplification. A more in-depth exploration of the similarities and differences between prayer and meditation is a great topic for a separate post—or even a book.
A central benefit of prayer
In my experience, prayer easily can take on a prescriptive or formulaic quality, when memorized words are delivered in certain ways at certain times. Prayers recited en masse during worship services, blessings delivered before meals, and pleas for protection before bed are examples.
The familiar, timeless, words of recited prayers can be a great source of comfort. And the consistent practice of saying certain words at certain times of day or in the event of special occasions provides a very real and valuable sense of order and control.
A central benefit of prayer is that it provides comfort, along with a sense of order and control.Prayer provides comfort, along with a sense of order and control.Click To Tweet
A central benefit of meditation
In my experience, meditation involves practicing techniques and tools designed to shift your physiological, mental, emotional, and/or psychological state. Breathwork, visualization, progressive relaxation, and mindfulness are some examples.
Meditation techniques can be employed at will to gain clarity before making decisions, elevate moods, and create an opening for quiet, calm, and stillness into our overactive existence. All of this provides a very real sense of interactive connection and presence with life, living, and all things greater than self.
A central benefit of meditation is that it offers a toolbox for achieving inner stillness and actively, deeply, connecting with self.Meditation offers a toolbox for achieving inner stillness and actively, deeply, connecting with self.Click To Tweet
Meditation helps to make prayer personal
Prayer in any form is an ideal place to start whenever we’re seeking stability in the midst of the unknown. And when we’re seeking an active shift in our physiological or mental/emotional state, meditation techniques can assist.
Combining prayer with meditation creates a powerful dynamic. For me, meditation helps to make prayer personal.Meditation helps to make prayer personal.Click To Tweet
There are so many ways to personalize the idea of prayer, and make our prayers our own. We can leverage our prayers to help reshape our thoughts and actions. This is especially useful when we find ourselves working hard to maintain solid footing in the face of chaos. And if we capitalize on the idea that meditation creates an opportunity to “listen” to God, then a personalized prayer plus meditation is like a direct conversation with a spiritual source.
In my prayerful meditations, I like to integrate affirmations and other brain training principles along with breathwork into my prayerful meditations. I often add other tools as well, like visualization, sound, color, and aromatherapy. There’s no right or wrong, and the sky’s the limit. But if you’re new to the idea, you gotta start somewhere. It helps to keep things simple. Keep reading for an example.
But first, let me answer a few more burning questions…
When do prayerful meditations work best?
Prayerful meditations are especially useful whenever we perceive a need for stability: When human sources of authority are unpredictable; when environmental conditions are shifting; when we witness violence; when we’re recovering from trauma; and when our social/political/economic circumstances are unsettled.
Uncertainty nurtures fear. While a certain amount of fear can work to keep us safe, it can work against us if we allow the cloud of fear to linger too long. Long-term fear can make us question our ability to survive. Once our fears begin feeding on themselves, our judgment becomes clouded and our creativity becomes blocked. From this restricted inner space, we become unable to optimize our use of available resources to resolve challenges.Uncertainty nurtures fear. Long-term fear can make us question our ability to survive.Click To Tweet
Prayerful meditations have been a useful tool for helping me expand my inner space. In fact, practicing prayerful meditation has seen me through numerous times of frightening uncertainty. The technique is personal, specific, comforting, and transformative. Most importantly, prayerful meditation aligns me with the positive energies and thoughts I want more of in my life, even when I feel hopelessly disconnected from them.
What does a prayerful meditation look like?
When I first started writing down my prayerful meditations, I noticed that they took the form of an appeal to a higher power accompanied by affirmations, declarations, decrees, or invocations to support the appeal. This structure has an important purpose. It draws energy from an external source to feed and focus my internal thoughts and raise my personal vibration.Prayerful meditations draw energy from an external source to feed and focus your internal thoughts and raise your personal vibration.Click To Tweet
Part of my prayerful meditation practice involves tuning in to receive the words and then writing them down. The next step is integrating the words into my daily meditative sessions. How often do I use prayerful meditation? Depending on the circumstances, sometimes I may engage with a prayerful meditation several times a day. As an extension of my practice, I like to share my prayerful meditations with others. Like I’m doing here, in this post.
I’m an advocate of prayer and meditation in all their forms. I advise my coaching clients that whenever you’re exploring wellness methods, choose the forms, tools, and techniques that work best for you. Then use your personal favorites to build a consistent practice.
Below is an example of a prayerful meditation. It was designed to be used during times of uncertainty.
This prayerful meditation is structured as an appeal to a higher power for strength and resilience. I’ve added affirmative statements and prompts for integrating meditative breathwork techniques. Feel free to modify this concept to suit your needs and preferences. My preferred term for a higher power is God, but any term you’re comfortable with can be used.
A Prayerful Meditation for Uncertain Times
by Lane Therrell
Assume your preferred posture for meditation. If you don’t have a preferred meditation posture, try sitting comfortably with your back supported and your feet flat on the floor. Keep a copy of the words you’d like to use during your session easily visible.
Open the session in your preferred manner. If you have a specific visualization, sound, or process you like to use to mark the beginning of a session. Otherwise, simply begin by speaking the following words.
Please grant me the strength and resilience to endure and thrive in times of uncertainty.
Pause here, and engage your preferred style of meditative breathwork. If you don’t have a preferred style of breathwork, try inhaling to the full capacity of your lungs, hold your breath for several seconds, and then exhale fully until your lungs are empty. Hold your breath another few seconds before inhaling again to start the next breath cycle.
Notice how your breathwork affects your body. Continue the breathwork for as many cycles as feels right to you in the moment. When you feel ready, proceed to the next step.
Read the following affirmations to yourself or repeat them aloud. Consider performing a full inhale-exhale cycle in between each statement. Or, read each item in succession. Repeat any item in the list as necessary.
- I remain grounded in eternal love.
- I accept the purpose of all creation.
- I embody the peace that passes understanding.
- I embrace joy and hope.
- I center my thoughts on gratitude and generosity of spirit.
- I act with thanksgiving.
- I give and receive willingly, with faith in abundance.
- I am shielded from fear.
- I reframe negativity.
- I choose serenity.
- I am aligned with light, truth, and freedom.
- I am vibrant.
- I am strong.
- I offer my gifts to the world willingly and without hesitation.
- I connect with others in meaningful, supportive ways.
- I am a beacon to others as I share the pure and everlasting love in which I am grounded.
Pause here, and re-engage with your breathwork. If you feel drawn to repeat all or any of the items on the list, please do so now.
Repeat the entire process if needed. When you feel ready to do so, begin bringing the prayerful meditation to a close with the following words:
I give thanks. And so it is. Amen.
Inhale and exhale deeply. Engage further with your breathwork as desired.
Conclude your prayerful meditation session in a manner appropriate for your practice. You may wish to write down any insights that came to you during the experience.
Some of the statements noted in bullet points above are familiar and recognizable as stand-alone affirmations. Affirmations are not dependent on any appeal to a higher power. When used correctly, affirmations can be a powerful mindset-shifting tool. Because they can operate independently from spiritual practices, affirmations can provide a source of structure and comfort on their own. I find that bringing prayer and meditation together is helpful to me personally, and to many of my clients. But if prayerful meditation doesn’t work for you, I encourage you to explore other wellness techniques. As a holistic health coach, I’m happy to help with that.
Prayer is a form of spiritual connection as well as a component of religious practice. Meditation is not as difficult as you may think. The health benefits both are fascinating and are well-documented in the medical literature.
I’m so grateful to have found that when affirmations are used along with a prayerful attitude, an intentional connection with a higher power, and relaxing meditative techniques, I can instantly feel better– even in the most unsettled of times.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
What words might you prefer to use in a prayerful meditation? How might you change the words you found in the example in this post to suit your own needs? What meditative postures, tools, or techniques might you integrate to create your own prayerful meditation?
Here is an audio recording of A Prayerful Meditation for Uncertain Times. It runs 1:09.