It was Sunday morning, I with my two daughters was offering the worship together. The younger one was in a hurry so as soon as we completed our prayers, she asked me for ’Prasad: a food offering made to God’, and went outside to play. However, I did not have any complaint about it as already she had the patience to do prayers with all her attention.
However, I was astounded over my elder daughter who was still there with no sign of rush; she seemed to be thinking about something. Holding a white petalled flower in her hand palm, she looked at me, and asked ”Do our prayers reach God? ” I was not surprised as it was the same question that I had in my mind when I was of her age. I kept one of my hand on her shoulder and replied, “ Before answering this particular question, I want you to understand the purpose of prayer. I looked at the flower in her hand and continued, ”When a flower blossoms, it spreads its fragrance but the main purpose of the flower is to bloom; not to ensure that the fragrance spread everywhere. Thus ’our prayers are merely a means to reach to God!’. They are not at all like demands so that we have an eagerness to find out whether the demands would be fulfilled or not.
The little girl smiled; reflecting her gratification. She offered the flower to the idol of Lord Krishna and went to join her sister.
Though I have already answered the question ’Do our prayers reach God?’, my mind, as usual, started pondering in an emerging world of ’interconnected questions’. However, heartful thinking never fails to answer.
Why did this question arise? If a prayer is called to be a prayer, it is enough. But the real question is, do our prayers come from the heart? If they do, then it is certainly enough. If a prayer weighed down with demands is not a prayer at all. The sanctity of the prayer lies in desirelessness.
What is prayer? Reading or verbalising some words cannot be called prayer. No matter how many times we repeat the words if our heart is not moved, it is not true prayer. Only the strong emotions of affection emerging from our heart can transform us, not those borrowed words.
Prayer does not mean memorising certain words and repeating them. To say something that has been memorised is like replaying a tape. Whatever is borrowed, memorised or prep in advance is not a prayer. That which is ours, spontaneous and not rehearsed, is a prayer. The more prepared you are, the more superficial you and your prayer will be.
Prayers, seem to have disappeared from this world because they are taught, instead of being kindled. And since such prayer is not kindled from within, life remains empty. Therefore the very act of teaching makes it worthless.
It is the same as with respect and affection. You can't be taught both of them. These are spontaneous things. If you, 'study' how to respect and affectionate, they become artificial. This kind of respect, this kind of affection is not real. All you need is the opportunity to manifest it.
For instance, if someone wants to sleep, what he do? He can draw the curtains to prevent the light from entering the room. He can make his bed nice and cosy. He can switch on the fan. All these efforts are not to get sleep, but to overcome the obstacles to sleeping, such as light, an uncomfortable bed, heat and so on. All these can be helpful in sleeping, but they can't bring sleep; sleep comes on its own.
It is the same with prayer. Just detach yourself from the noise outside. Sit by yourself for some time, forget the world and connect with your inner self. Dig deep within initially, you may encounter just pebbles, stones, but if you keep digging deeper within yourself, a fountain of bliss will spring forth. Wait for it patiently.
True prayer begins as a request to change oneself and culminates in a tranquil silent and thoughtless state of mind. On the other side, any request for changing circumstances cannot be called a prayer. That would be sheer begging.
For centuries, begging has been practised in the name of prayer; that is why such prayer does not blossom in the heart to give joy.
Prayer is a serene state of mind, and not mere chanting of a mantra for the fulfilment of a desire. Some pray in the belief that if you ask with faith, you will receive it. They believe that begging is praying. But the enlightened beings say that if we entertain desire such as, ‘ I hope I get this, I hope I don't get that’, then it is not prayer. The moment desires are appended to prayer, the wings of worship are clipped.
Everyone’s prayer is different, but the inner state from where prayers emerge is the same. Prayer is an inner expression of joy and a contented state of being.