Why and How to Pray
During my 20 years of Vedic Religion Radio Broadcasting in the Greater Toronto Area and on our web site www.bhajanawali.com I have had several occasions of producing special programs on prayer and meditation. My extensive research has revealed that most people are confused about the underlying philosophy of prayer. Consequently, their prayers are not answered. In this article I am attempting to provide some insights into the success of prayer. To begin with we must understand as to why do we pray? There are basically 12 reasons for prayer:
- We pray to depend on God for help in distress.
- We pray for asking God for enlightenment.
- We pray for communion with God through single-minded devotion.
- We pray for asking for peace from God when the mind is restless.
- We pray for surrendering ourselves to God completely.
- We pray to God for giving us the ability to comfort others.
- We pray for thanking God for his blessings.
- We pray for expecting God to decide what is best for us when we are in a dilemma.
- We pray for making friendship with God.
- We pray for melting the mind and ego in silence in God.
- We pray for requesting God to give strength, peace and pure intellect e.g. Gayatri Prayer.
- We pray for asking God to purify the heart and make us abide in Him forever.
In essence, what the above 12 reasons convey to us is that a prayer has two parts: one is soliciting a favour from the Almighty and the other is surrendering ourselves to His will. While the first part is practiced by most of us on a daily basis, the second part is the real and ultimate goal because it implies dedication.
Dedication means feeling the light of God within your heart. If your heart is devoid of divine light, you will not be happy, cheerful and successful in your lives. Remember, your success depends on the inward state of your mind. Your mind will create hindrance in your work if it is not in communion with God because He alone is the permanent abode of peace. Yes, I agree that most of us want to have riches, healthy lives, nice children and prosperous future. But if we always approached God with a begging attitude then we are treating Him as our bearer to supply the things required by us at once. This is no devotion to God but devotion to our own selfish desires.
My extensive research of the scriptures indicates that there are seven (7) techniques of successful prayer:
- When you pray just talk to God as a little boy would to a father or mother whom he loves and with whom he feels in harmony. Tell Him everything that is on your mind and in your heart.
- Talk to God in simple everyday speech. He understands every language. It is not necessary to use an exaggerated formal speech. You would not talk to your father or mother that way, would you? God is your heavenly father (or mother). Why should you be formal to Him or Her? This will make your relationship with Him more natural.
- Tell God what you want. You might as well be factual. You want something. Tell Him about it. Tell Him you would like to have it if He thinks it is good for you. But also say and mean it that you will leave it to Him to decide and you will accept His decision as best for you. If you do this regularly it will bring to you what you ought to have, and thus fulfill your own destiny. It will be possible for God to give you things that you should have-wonderful things. It is really unfortunate, the marvelous things we miss, things God wants to give us and cannot because we insist upon something else, something only a fraction as fine as He wants to give us.
- Practice praying as many times during the day as possible. For example, when you are driving your car, instead of the aimless thoughts that go through your mind, talk to God as you drive. If you have a companion in the front seat, you would talk to him or her. Would you not? Then, imagine the Lord is there and in fact He is, so just talk to Him about everything. If you are waiting for the subway train or bus, have a little chat with Him. Most importantly say little prayer before you go to bed. If it is not possible, get into bed, relax and then pray. God will lull you to a wonderful carefree sleep.
- It is not always necessary to say words when you pray. Spend a few moments just thinking about Him. Think how good He is, how kind He is and that He is right by your side guiding and watching over you.
- Don’t always pray for yourself. Try helping others by your prayers. Pray for those who are in trouble or are ill. Whether they are your loved ones or your friends or neighbours, your prayer will profoundly affect them. And
- Last but not the least whatever you do, do not make all prayers into the form of begging God for something. The prayer for thanksgiving is much more powerful. Make your prayer consisting of a listing of all the fine things you possess, or all the wonderful things that have happened to you. Name them over, thank God for them and make that your whole prayer. You will find that these prayers of thanksgiving grow.
In the final analysis, please do not pray to God to run after you to satisfy your selfish desires. You are supposed to do your work as efficiently and skillfully as possible. With faith in God and using the above techniques of prayer you will have success in every walk of life.