The Best Way to Make Your Prayers Effective

Krishna's Teachings

by Jayaram V


Chapter 2, Verse 7

7. My being is over powered by cowardice; my understanding is confused as to duty. I ask Thee. Tell me for certain which is better. I am Thy disciple; pray instruct me, who has sought refuse in Thee.

As long as people indulge in pride, anger, envy, lust, and such evils, they have little chance to be with God, earn his love or achieve liberation. Spirituality requires purity of purpose as well as practice. The mind and body must be purified and prepared for the emergence of the hidden Self to the surface and pervade the consciousness.

There is no hope for the ignorant, egoistic and delude people, who lack divine qualities or whose minds and bodies are filled with the impurities of ignorance and delusion to establish any positive and active relationship with him. Darkness and light cannot coexist in the same space. If you want to enter the light of your soul, you must get rid of the impurities that are present in your consciousness.

Those who refuse to acknowledge the presence of God or seek his help stand alone in the battlefield of life, pursuing their selfish dreams and desires and struggling against chance or fate. Caught in the cycle of births and deaths they remain bound to the mortal world or fall down into lower worlds. This is the repetitive theme of many Hindu Puranas, Upanishads and scriptures such as the Bhagavadgita.

When faced with adversity or insurmountable difficulties, people either succumb meekly to their own hidden fears and cowardice or helplessly flap their wings like the birds that are caught in the net of a hunter. Their ego and delusion stand between them and God. The ego's pride is a major problem for the seekers of liberation on the spiritual path. Without resolving it and surrendering it to the will of God, they cannot let him guide their lives or their actions.

Having battled in his mind with conflicting thoughts, at last Arjuna surrendered to God. He acknowledged his limitations and sought divine guidance with humility and surrender. This marks an important step in the relationship between God and his devotee. God is always willing to help, but he will not respond unless the devotee willingly seeks help. It is not that God is callous and wants to prove his greatness. He simply does not force anyone to do anything against his or her will. If he does that, he will be breaching the law of karma and violating an important principle of his own Dharma. Therefore, unless you ask, you will not receive his help.

His love is such that if you approach him with love and devotion, he will manifest your desires and wishes, provided you convey them explicitly to him so that there is no confusion. Faith and sincerity are also important. In other worlds, you must clearly word your prayers, express you wishes without ambiguity, and pray with faith and sincerity. When these elements are present in your prayers, most likely they will be answered in due time according to your karma and devotion. Many people do not know this important aspect of prayers and invocations. Therefore, they fail to establish proper communication with the gods of higher realms or God himself.

God will help you if your prayer is explicit and clear. When you study the Vedas, you will realize why the hymns in them are so elaborate, explicit, why the Vedic tradition places so much emphasis upon the purity of speech, and why worshippers so repetitively express their desires and expectations to the gods in so many ways. In those invocations, nothing is left to imagination. To an erudite person, they may appear primitive and even superstitious, but they are the best prayers and invocations the world has ever seen. They survived for so long in human memory because they were composed according to the best principles and practices of divine worship to ensure their efficacy.

The Vedic hymns do not gloss over the purpose for which they are used, nor do they express the desires and wishes of the worshippers in roundabout ways. They explicitly and repetitively beseech the gods to descend to the earth and help the worshippers by fulfilling their desires. Therefore, your prayers must be like the Vedic hymns. They must clearly convey your thoughts and wishes, without any confusion. It is possible when your mind is calm and composed, your speech is chaste, and you are clear in your communication with God.

If you are confused, you will get confusing results. It is because God is like a mirror. At the deepest level, there is no difference between him and you. He is  you, and you are him. He reciprocates your thoughts and desires exactly as you harbor them in your mind. You may probably know that the same is true with the goals which we set in worldly life. If your goals are ambiguous, you may not achieve them or may partially achieve them. In the end, it is your own mind, suffused with the power of God, which precipitates the reality which you envision. It is why purity of the mind and heart and right discernment are so important in our religion.

In this verse, Arjuna clearly expressed his wish to Krishna and sought his help. He confessed that he was overpowered by cowardice. By saying it, he showed considerable humility. It is very noble on the part of a great warrior like Arjuna to confess before God that he was overwhelmed by cowardliness. When you pray to God you must be honest and truthful, without pride or ego. You must willingly open your heart with devotion and express your true feelings and concerns.

Secondly, he confessed that he was confused about the true meaning of Dharma or duty. He wanted to know the moral and spiritual implications of engaging in certain actions, and what standards should be applied to ascertain that he was engaged in righteous actions. In other words, he wanted to know what was the best way to engage in actions. As we will see later, Lord Krishna cleared his confusion in several verses by explaining him the true meaning of Dharma and how to engage in obligatory duties without suffering from their consequences.

Thirdly, he declared himself as a disciple (sisyah). We know that Arjuna was a close friend and brother-in-law of Lord Krishna. Until now he spoke to him like a friend, but here he turned into a disciple. This is also important because if you want to acquire divine knowledge, you must look for a spiritual master, who has achieved oneness with God, and become his disciple. When you become his disciple, you must play the part and sincerely obey his instructions, without taking any liberties or showing disrespect. You must follow the same principle when you approach God as his disciple and accept him as your guru.

An earthly guru may or may not accept you as his disciple, but God never refuses anyone who approaches him with faith and humility. When you open your heart and pray to him with devotion, he will respond to your prayers and prepare your mind and body for the inner awakening. Your initial relationship with God should be that of a devotee and disciple. After you experience oneness with him, the equation may change, but in the initial stages it is better to show humility and keep a reverential attitude.

Thus, for spiritual awakening, one must be ready to become God’s disciple with true humility, sincerity and honesty. One must surrender to God’s will and let him become his teacher and purifier. Whatever barriers that stand between the two must be dissolved through practice until all distinctions disappear, leaving the outcome to God. Most importantly, you prayers must be explicit and leave no scope for ambiguity.

Note : These commentaries are not part of the Bhagavadgita Complete Translation.

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