Sri Chinmoy: If we get something through prayer, it only increases its value in our life. We can tell the world, “I prayed for it. That is why I got it.” God sees everything and is ready to give us unconditionally. But if we outwardly ask Him for something and He gives it to us, then we get the glory. A child tells his mother, “I am hungry,” and she feeds him. Then the child will be able to tell the world, “Look, I have this kind of closeness and inner connection with my mother.” Yes, the mother would have fed the child on her own, but the fact that he asks and his mother listens to his request gives him more joy. It means that she is at his beck and call.
In a race, if somebody tries very hard and runs the whole course, he will be so delighted when the race director gives him a trophy. He has run with such effort. Therefore, he feels that he has earned the trophy. God can give everything unconditionally, but we will not be happy. We get more satisfaction when we feel that we have made some effort. Here the fulfilment of our prayers is the trophy.
Again, the very fact that we feel we have to ask God for what we need means that we feel separated from Him. We feel that God is somewhere and we are somewhere else. We never think that He is around or beside us. If we felt that we and God were one, then the question of prayer would not arise, for our needs would be His Needs.
Prayer intensifies our intimacy with the Supreme. Meditation, on the other hand, increases our oneness with the Supreme. Before we become one, we have to acquire intimacy. First we have to feel that we and God are intimate friends; only then can we realise our oneness-reality with God. Before we meditate, if we pray for a few seconds, then we are developing our intimate connection with the Supreme. Then, once we start meditating, we are in a position to develop our oneness-reality with Him.