Prayer and mediation are not forms of magic, they are a certain vulnerability and openness. Prayer and mediation are ways of remembering that we are not orphans of the universe, but the intersection point of infinite invisible threads stretching out everywhere.
Praying or meditation recognizes the harmony between the pulses of our bodies and the one pulse underneath it all. Prayer or meditation is aligning the intelligence in our heads to the intelligent web that runs through us, but also through the whole of reality. It is a moment of dissolving into the larger life, and then, coming back to our smaller life attuned to life and open to a much larger context for living.
Jesus taught before the edifice we now call the church was built. His concern was much more basic than that of many theologians. He wanted to teach us how to tune our hearts to the common life. His teachings can be helpful whether or not one becomes a Christian. I don’t think he would have the slightest interest in converting anyone to the institutional church. He wouldn’t be against the church either, so long as it teaches universal love and not sectarian dogma. I suspect most religious sages are vastly greater than the organizations that now speak in their names.
For some, prayer is a conversation with God, for others, who don’t believe in God, “prayer” is more like a reverent awareness without any personification. Either way, the aim of prayer is attunement. Whether it consists of words or of attentive silence, prayer is deepening and broadening our shallow concerns until they become compassion for all beings, and acceptance of reality as it is. When we rise from that prayer, we will have the heart that Christ had, the mind that Buddha had, and the calling of Moses to serve the people. When all of that happens inside us, we will know that our prayer has been answered.