by Jayaram V
What should we seek in our prayers?
Prayer is a way of reaching out to God or the higher divinities or your
own transcendental self. It is a bridge by which you can get in touch with the most
sensitive and devotional aspects of your own personality. Through prayers you
express your love and devotion to God. Your prayer may be entirely your own
creation, weaved by the love of your heart or taken from a scripture. In the Bhagavadgita
God gives us the assurance that His devotees, who are immersed in the thoughts
of Him and soaked by intense devotion to Him are freed forever from the bonds of
mortal life. Prayers align our hearts and minds with the highest purpose of our
lives, which is salvation or self-realization. There is no power in the world
other than the power of prayer that can take us so close to the heart of God and
connect us to Him in ways we cannot even imagine. Such is the power of prayer
that even the gods as Indra, Vayu and Agni employ it when they seek the help of
other gods like Brahma, Vishnu or Siva.
We can change our lives and our destinies using the power of prayers. Even the most difficult
tasks can be performed with confidence when we unite the spiritual power of our
prayers with the power of our intentions.
Prayer as a method of worship is common to all religions.
Other acts of worship that are closer to prayers in form and
structure are hymns, incantations, curses and imprecations.
Prayers may be spontaneous or formalized. They may or may not
be accompanied by rituals. Devotees in every religion offer
prayers to God in their own specific ways for selfish reasons
or selfless. Religions do specify the way in which prayers
ought to be offered. But those who are familiar with the
practice know that purity of heart and sincerity of intention
are far more important to a prayer than its mechanical or
procedural. Prayers not only purify the
people who pray but also those in the vicinity. Prayers enable
us to send out powerful vibrations into
the world and contribute to peace and social harmony.
We can ask for any thing we want in our prayers. There is nothing wrong in
seeking some material gain through our prayers. Some may argue
that it is an inferior way of praying. But it is praying all
the same. Praying is purely a personal act. However groups
prayers are believed to be far more effective, as several
minds are joined for a common cause. When people pray together collectively, it makes
them feel socially responsible. It helps them to come together as
a group to achieve their common goals and collective welfare.
People generally pray with some specific motive based on the belief that if
you pray sincerely you will get what you pray for. It does not cost anything
to pray. No great preparation is required to offer a prayer. You can do it easily from wherever you and in whatever condition
or situation you find yourself. In prayers you combine the synergies of
contemplation, concentration and devotion. Through prayers you augment the power
of your thought with the power of God by uniting your mind with the universal
mind and elevate
your consciousness to step into the world of God. Our prayers awaken the dormant energies lying within us and make
the impossible possible. In moments of exalted awareness induced by prayers, we
even experience our oneness with our Creator. Most of us have seen or heard how
people were cured of incurable diseases or overcame insurmountable problems
through prayers. Many people have documented miraculous events happening in
their lives because of prayers.
There is nothing wrong if you pray for purely personal or
selfish reasons. It is much better than not praying at all.
When you pray, you remember God or think of Him, which in
itself is very purifying and elevating. Sometimes society may
not appreciate your reasons for praying, but it should not
matter at all as long as your prayers help you in some meaningful way and do
not harm you or anyone else. There is virtue in being humble and weak in front of God and ask Him for some favor with humility and expectation. Some
people do pray to God for the destruction of others as self
proclaimed soldiers of God simply because they follow another
faith or hold different beliefs. This is probably the most
heinous crime that anyone can commit against themselves and
the humanity. When a negative prayer is unleashed it goes out
into the universe to collect the negative energies lying there
and returns to the one who delivered it to work through him
with ruinous intensity to destroy his chances of entering the heaven.
God is love in its purest form. As the indweller of everything, He responds promptly to
every call and every pull of your love and need for help. In whatever way you
worship, He returns your love and devotion. Nothing moves Him as strongly as a
call from a distressed soul. If your prayers are not responded, it is not because God is unkind, deaf or dumb.
Probably He loves you so much that He does not want you to get hurt in some ignorant or stupid way
by seeking the things that are harmful. Probably He wants you to learn some
lessons or think about other alternatives.
As the knower of all, He is the best judge of everything. There is an irony in
the fact of life that most of the things we covet
are actually harmful. Wise men who have contemplated upon the truths of life
know clearly why medicines are so bitter and why people who speak eloquently
in election speeches or public platforms need not necessarily be men of great character. Men are
seldom correct in judging their contemporary leaders or electing them because
they see in them what they want to see rather than what they truly are and what
they truly represent.
So it is comforting to know that either explicitly or implicitly, God responds to our prayers. This is the experience of
many people in the present as well as in the past.
He responds because He does not see you as being different or separate from Him.
You are a part of His Body. You are an aspect of Him. For you He is God. But for
Him you are inseparable. This is what God is. From His perspective everything is
an extension of Himself. In truth, the experiences of countless individual souls are His
experiences only. As the Hindu scriptures describe, God is ultimate enjoyer (bhogi)
of all. As the silent witness, hiding behind a veil of mystery, He is in touch with every aspect of
our lives. He permits the freedom of life to express itself
through the exercise of our individual wills. He creates the laws of reward and punishment for Himself in His deluded aspect as
individual souls caught in the web of deception and illusion. Whenever
there is a genuine cry of help, He comes to the rescue of His separated selves. Ever present, ever active, He never abandons His
numerous forms, be they human or animal, living or non-living. Actually, it is we who tend to forget Him
or ignore Him most of the time because we are easily distracted by the myriad attractions of the external world. We remember Him
usually when we need something or in times of difficulties. Even then if we pray to Him, if
we approach Him sincerely and present our problems with faith, we receive His
The doors to the heart of God are always open to sincere
prayers. God's attention is riveted upon us. Everything happens according to His
will. Adversity and prosperity are both His blessings only. We may like one and
dislike the other. But for Him both are just tools. From a detached and
spiritual perspective, the ultimate purpose of our lives upon earth is to
experience life as it comes, unconditionally, without judgment and preference.
Our prayers therefore ought to be spiritual rather than materialistic. God
however responds to our materialistic aspirations, since He is unbound love.
At times we do feel that God has abandoned us and our faith
is put to great test.
We become frustrated that God's help has
not reached us in time. On such occasions some people lose
their faith and develop resentment towards God. Truly, the
fault lies with us and our weak minds. It is not God who does not listen. It is we who
are not sensitive enough to discern His response. It is we who are incapable of breaking
out of our own limited thinking and the veil of self induced
illusions to see the Truth as it is. God is ever attentive. It is we who are asleep and
who need to be awakened from
our deep slumber of egoism and selfishness to pay attention to
the messages coming from Him.
In praying you have an opportunity to combine the best of both karma yoga and bhakti yoga. From a spiritual perspective,
it is good to
pray with the right attitude, for a righteous cause. Our prayers should be aimed for our spiritual welfare
as well as the welfare of others. Equally important is to
express love and devotion to God through our prayers with no particular aim or
desire. Prayer is not a substitute for
either hard work or diligence. A prayer is an act of worship. It has to be used as part of our spiritual
effort to overcome our limitations and realize our true nature. A prayer
which seeks to help others is the most effective and noble prayer. It has the ability to manifest God's power
upon earth. It can heal
the sick and purify the hearts. Finally, a prayer that is made without any expectation or without any desire for the result is the best
Suggested Further Reading