In a way they are. To pray you find a quiet space, call to your deity and state your reason for prayer [thanks, offering, help or assistance] then you go about your day confident in the knowledge a higher power listen and is watch over you.
To cast a spell you focus and visualize, charge and direct energy [sometimes call to a deity] then go on with your day knowing the magick is helping you with your goal.
The energy and formality is different, but they are rather similar.
i guess it comes down to first person, second person, third person. if you're praying you're asking a second or third person to help (or harm) you or others. if you're casting a spell it's first person, YOU are directly helping (or harming) yourself or others.
It honestly depends on the type of prayer, most people assume prayer is merely a passive "Hey Lord, are you there?" whereas prayer can be used actively as a form of invocation as well as a form of building and directing energy, very much like a spell.
I personally see very little difference between prayer and a spell if the prayer is an active form.
Perhaps it is more approriate to suggest prayer has its plac in a ritual setting and therefore becomes a 'spell'. I don't know, I suppose it really depends on the definitions of spell and prayer being used.
like the only time i ever healed anyone was in a hospital. i asked him 'do you believe i can do this?' and he did. so i just rubbed the area where he had pain (between his shoulder and his neck) and in return received a small pain in the same area in my own body, which i still have to this day. but it's only very slight.
What you did sounds like energy work. Have you tried grounding and cleansing the energy in your body?
I pray before meals and occasionally [when I've had an eventful day] before bed. I also do daily offerings [one day fruit, next day incense] and I say a little prayer then. Prayer imo is more talking with your deity on a regular basis. Sometimes scripted [rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub] but normally a prayer is from the heart. When you cast a spell its for a reason. Pagans can do both, but many focus on spells and ignore prayer. [I suppose they see it as a Christian thing.]
i've tried stuff like grounding and cleansing but i find it doesn't work very well for me. maybe i'm using the wrong technique?
like i'll put my feet firmly on the ground and try and make the earth absorb it but it just doesn't seem to happen. i find with me tension leaves my body in an UPWARDS direction. it doesn't go into the ground, it goes off into the sky.