In certain Buddhist sects, prayer accompanies meditation. Buddhism for the most part sees prayer as a secondary, supportive practice to meditation and scriptural study. Gautama Buddha claimed that human beings possess the capacity and potential to be liberated, or enlightened, through contemplation, leading to insight. Prayer is seen mainly as a powerful psycho-physical practice that can enhance meditation.
In the earliest Buddhist tradition, the Theravada, and in the later Mahayana tradition of Zen (or Chán), prayer plays only an ancillary role. It is largely a ritual expression of wishes for success in the practice and in helping all beings.
The 'skillful means' (Sanskrit: upaya) of the 'transfer of merit' (Sanskrit: parinamana) is an evocation and prayer. Moreover, an indeterminate number of buddhas are available for intercession as they reside in 'pure-fields' (Sanskrit: buddha-kshetra). The nirmanakaya of a 'pure-field' is what is generally known and understood as mandala. The opening and closing of the 'wheel' (Sanskrit: mandala) is an active prayer. An active prayer is a mindful activity, an activity in which mindfulness is not just cultivated but is. A common prayer is "May the merit of my practice, adorn Buddhas' Pure Lands, requite the fourfold kindness from above, and relieve the suffering of the three life-journeys below. Universally wishing sentient beings, Friends, foes, and karmic creditors, all to activate the bodhi mind, and all to be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss." (願以此功德 莊嚴佛淨土 上報四重恩 下濟三途苦 普願諸眾生 冤親諸債主 悉發菩提心 同生極樂國)
The 'Generation Stage' (Sanskrit: utpatti-krama) of Vajrayana involves prayer elements.
The Tibetan Buddhism tradition emphasizes an instructive and devotional relationship to a guru; this may involve devotional practices known as guru yoga which are congruent with prayer. It also appears that Tibetan Buddhism posits the existence of various deities, but the peak view of the tradition is that the deities or yidam are no more existent or real than the 'continuity' (Sanskrit: santana; refer mindstream) of the practitioner, environment and activity. But how practitioners engage 'yidam' or tutelary deities will depend upon the 'level' or more appropriately 'yana' at which they are practicing. At one level, one may pray to a deity for protection or assistance, taking a more subordinate role. At another level, one may invoke the deity, on a more equal footing. And at a higher level one may deliberately cultivate the idea that one has 'become' the deity, whilst remaining aware that its ultimate nature is shunyata. The views of the more esoteric yana are impenetrable for those without direct experience and empowerment. Pure Land Buddhism emphasizes the recitation of prayer-like mantras by devotees. On one level it is said that reciting these mantras can ensure rebirth into a sambhogakaya 'pure land' (Sanskrit: buddha-kshetra) after bodily dissolution, a pure sphere spontaneously co-emergent to a buddha's enlightened intention. On another, the practice is a form of meditation aimed at achieving realization.
But beyond all these practices the Buddha emphasized the primacy of individual practice and experience. He said that supplication to gods or deities was not necessary. Nevertheless, today many lay people in East Asian countries pray to the Buddha in ways that resemble Western prayer - asking for intervention and offering devotion.
Sumber : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer#Buddhism