This is a question that someone thought me wise enough to answer. While I am no spiritual guru, not even close, I will do my best to give a response:
"What is the difference between prayer and meditation and do I have to do both?"
Well, dear friend, regardless of your spiritual beliefs or non-beliefs, at some point you will find yourself communicating or wanting to communicate with your inner self. You might call this your spirit, your soul, your higher consciousness, your Creator, Your Higher Power, Your Lord and Savior, Your God/Goddess, or whatever resonates with you. In some way at some point, you were talking to this part of yourself, and hoping to be heard or even get a response.
It is in this communication that we engage in what can be considered prayer and what is known as meditation. Let's make one thing clear here at the beginning:
Prayer is prayer. Meditation is meditation. Prayer is not meditation. Both are important.
Now, you may disagree with me and you are fully entitled to that. I am simply telling you what I know for sure.
What is prayer?
Prayer is a hope, a wish, a request to the Higher Power for help or to express gratitude for manifestation in your life. Prayer is essentially "talking" to God. Communicating your needs, your desires, and your gratitude for what you have and what is coming.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the entering of a space where your mind is calm and quiet. That voice in your head (Who is that anyway? My gosh, they never shut up!) goes silent and there is a deep sense of peace. You become aware of your inner and outer environment. You find stillness. Here is where you may get messages in regards to what you have prayed for. I've heard people refer to this as "quiet time" with their higher power.
Why do you need both?
One without the other is like sending a text message and never looking at the response. Or waiting for a response to a text you never sent. Both of these situations leave you wondering what the hell is going on. Why aren't they responding? Did they get my message? Did I say something wrong? Prayer and meditation come together like a conversation.
If prayer is talking to your Creator, meditation is listening for the response. [Tweet this!]
Think of it this way: You have asked God through prayer for a person, a place, a thing, a nod, a wink, an answer to your deepest darkest questions (okay, it's not always that deep, but you get it), and God answers you through meditation by revealing guidance, a plan of action, a creative idea, or just the sense of knowing that everything is going to be okay.
If you prayed but never meditated, you would feel ignored. If you meditated but never prayed, you'd probably get a little bored. Nothing is happening. The wire isn't connected at both ends.
If you want to know more about how to pray or meditate, I can refer you to some books and videos that have helped me. One thing I can tell you is that prayer is not all knees-bowed-head-down-hands folded and meditation is not all sitting-on-a-mat-legs-folded-chanting-om. Different strokes for different folks, so find what works for you.
Hope that helped you, dear!