What is a prayer? Do prayers work? Is there is any reason to pray? Are there any principles for praying? Why have devotion to God? Why do we start praying only when we are really sick or going downhill in life? Adarshji explores these common questions asked about prayers.
Prayers are a common means of worship in all religions. It is a powerful psychological tool which is used to channelize our negative emotions, our anxieties so that they don’t weaken us while performing our actions.
The beautiful metaphor is given of that of a river gushing through with force and dynamism. Our minds are no different as the constant flood of thoughts keep flowing through it. These thoughts represent our desires, goals, passions, knowledge, likes, dislikes, values, judgments and even our
The two main types of thoughts in our mind are:
1. Our Identity thought as to who we are and
2. The rest of the thoughts as mentioned above.
When we have a small identity but large goals, we feel pressured, stressed and even incompetent at times. The classic example is of a child who is performing on stage for the first time. The reason being the child gets overwhelmed by the crowd as his/her self-belief (identity) is weak. This is when we get crushed by the situations in our lives. When we have a large identity but the wrong values or incorrect judgments then too the outcome isn’t positive. Don't we see this when CEOs of big corporates take short cuts to make a quick profit, they often lead the company in turmoil.
This is where the principle of prayer comes to the rescue of our mind. The principle of prayer when understood correctly and implemented diligently, gives us a Higher identity (a belonging). At the same time prayers helps us purify our thoughts in the mind by resetting the right values and knowledge to be used in our activities.
The reasoning behind prayers...
As explained by Swami Tejomayanandaji, all religious practices of worship are to be done for the following reasons. “Normally, it is understood that such pujas will save us from difficulties, sorrows, problems and miseries of life. When that does not happen we feel what is the use of all pujas and prayers, is it not? True, archanas or pujas do not alter or change situations arising due to individual or collective actions done in the past. Then why should we do all these? To develop love for the Lord. When that happens His grace flows and creates an umbrella in our lives. We remain unaffected, just as although the rain from the clouds may be pouring down, one who has an umbrella is totally protected. So also, when we pray and chant the name of the Lord, we are protected. Due to the love for the Lord, the mind remains at peace. It gets purified and steadily reaches its destination”.
Are our prayers becoming merely a transaction with God?
In the name of prayer we often we prey on God! This is when we use God as a means to fulfill our various desires. This is when praying is a transaction. The result of such prayer is neither purification of our thoughts nor is the devotion shown, pure or divine. But it’s a start. This is not to criticize or judge another but to understand how our own minds behave under the influence of a strong passion. Often, out of pure sentimentality, we pray to God only when convenient and we tend to complain about how things are difficult, times are bad and why doesn’t God fix it? They always question destiny or just complain about His plan? It is like the people who work at a company but always complain about its management! Again, the mind remains in agitation and never finds peace as their identity of God is fluctuating, so even though they are regular in their worship, the purity and peace of mind isn’t translating in their transactional world.
Prayers and trust...
But there are few who have greater trust in His will and see the current happenings as a perfect scenario for our improvement and growth. With the higher identity thus established, they strive forward with little fear but great belief. They go ahead and achieve greatness. They reflect the strength of true prayer.
But the ultimate devotee of the Lord is one in whom; the Lord is no longer up in the sky above, neither is He different from the people around him. In his understanding, He realizes that the Lord is nothing but the very energy that flows through his body, the thoughts that arise in his mind and the peace that passeth all understanding.
Such a dignified state of being is the true ensign of one who has merged his lower limited identity with the infinite potential within to live a dynamic and full life. This is why we pray to be peaceful and full, don’t we?
Bramhachari Adarsh Chaitanya serves as the Resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Auckland and conducts weekly spiritual classes for children, youth and adults. For more information about the Chinmaya Mission and Bramhachari Adarsh Chaitanya please follow this link: www.chinmaya.org.nz or contact him at 2756954