I view these two phenomena in this way. Prayer, no doubt is a common practice by almost everyone the world over. Almost everyone is convinced that they are small and vulnerable and created by a “separate” all powerful being who is available for help if we properly behave and worship IT. Meditation is something we all hear a lot about and may experiment with occasionally but for the most part, that is about it for the vast majority.
Prayer requires an active mind. Prayer is asking for something. It is a request. It arises out of either a fear that things are not going to turn out favorably or a seeking of assurance that it will. Or it is an expression of dissatisfaction for “what is” and a request for improvement. In any case it is fear rather than faith based, it seems to me. To me, faith is not forcing belief that our desires are going to be granted but rather that all is working to our ultimate good.
Meditation, on the other hand, is not seeking or asking for anything. Meditation requires an empty mind. It requires the freeing of oneself of all activity, even thought and simply “being” or existing as a watchful observer. It is total submission and surrender to the present moment. It never seeks control or change but is unruffled by the ups and downs of physicality with a deep knowing that all is ultimately well. It simply accepts change as it comes. Meditation is simple awareness. it is complete acceptance of “what is”.