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The Secret of Prayer

Have you ever found yourself wondering why in spite of praying so hard, you still feel an emptiness within? Introspect and check whether it was a true prayer, or only a demand for the fulfilment of your own desires

The Purpose of Prayer

A disciple asked his Guru, ‘Do prayers reach God?’ The Guru replied, ‘You have not understood the purpose of prayer. A prayer is meant for you to reach God, not for your prayer to reach God. When a flower blossoms it spreads its fragrance. Does the fragrance reach someone? This question is futile, for the purpose of the flower is to bloom, not to ensure that the fragrance reaches someone.’

Why did this question arise? It is because the prayer was not an earnest feeling; it was merely a demand. Hence, there was an eagerness to find out whether the demand would be fulfilled or not. A prayer weighed down with demands is not a prayer at all. The sanctity of the prayer lies in desirelessness.

True Prayer

Jalaluddin Rumi tells the Lord, “I am weak, O Lord! If I ever ask for something from You, please don’t listen to me. And even if You do, please don’t act upon it. Let Your will alone be fulfilled. My happiness lies in what pleases You. I don’t even understand what is good for me! Whatever You do is right, even if I don’t understand it.”

Is prayer meant to change the will of God or to change you? A true prayer begins as a request to change oneself and culminates in a tranquil, silent and thoughtless state of mind. On the other hand, any request to change circumstances cannot be called a prayer. That would be sheer begging.

Is Prayer Enough?

Another question that may arise is, whether prayer alone, is enough. The answer is – If a prayer is a prayer, it is enough. But the real question is, has your prayer come from the heart, or is it borrowed? Is it something you have learnt or read, or has it come from within? If it has come from the depths of your heart, then it is certainly enough.

How can reading or verbalising someone else’s emotions be called a prayer? That which is borrowed cannot be a prayer. No matter how many times you repeat the words, if your heart is not moved or your dormant existence does not start dancing, believing that such a prayer will be beneficial is a mere illusion. Only the soft emotions of love emerging from your heart can transform you, not the borrowed words.

Cannot be Taught

Prayers seem to have disappeared from this world because they are taught, instead of being kindled. By teaching, they have become artificial. And since such prayer is not kindled from within, life remains empty and reeks of filth. Never teach a prayer to anybody. The very act of teaching makes it worthless.

Prayer expresses itself in different ways, in the form of tears or as dance. It has nothing to do with the vocabulary. Words may or may not be present. Only that heartfelt emotional state is necessary. Therefore, a prayer can neither be taught nor learnt. Prayer does not mean memorising certain words and then reproducing them. Prayer is not a specific set of words learnt and reproduced, as you may do at the time of examinations – write what has been memorised without having understood anything. Prayer must be from your heart. To say something that has been memorised is like replaying a tape. Whatever is borrowed, memorised or prepared in advance is not a prayer. That which is yours, spontaneous, and not rehearsed, is a prayer. The more prepared you are, the more superficial you and your prayer will be. For a prayer, there is no routine method.

There are no rituals for love. Where there are rituals, there is artificiality. Do you learn how to love? When you study how to love, it becomes merely an outward act. It becomes artificial. This kind of love is not real. You are born with the innate ability to love; it is not necessary to study how to love. This music is already present in your existence. All you need is the opportunity for it to manifest.

For instance, if someone wants to sleep, what will he do? Will he start practicing how to sleep? Will he exercise, will he jump about, or will he do yoga? Whatever he does will only be a hindrance to sleeping. Yet, a lot can be done. 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 deeper within. Initially, you may encounter just pebbles and stones, but if you keep digging deeper, one day, a fountain of bliss will spring forth. Wait for it patiently.

Begging is not Praying

Why do people remain the same even after praying? It is because prayer has been misconstrued. It is unfortunate that the very word ‘prayer’ has come to mean, begging. Asking for anything with faith is misunderstood as a prayer. If we label a person who begs, as a prayerful person, then whom will we call a beggar? For centuries begging has been carried out in the name of prayer, that is why such a prayer does not blossom in the heart to give joy.

Prayer is a serene state of mind, and not some singing of a composition or 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 desires such as, ‘I hope I get this, I hope I don’t get that, let this happen, let this not happen,’ and so on, then it is not a prayer. The moment your desires are appended to a prayer, a millstone gets tied around the neck of the bird of prayers. The wings of worship are clipped. Now, the bird will not be able to fly. It will struggle in vain and ultimately die.

A prayer is meant for you to meet God. It is different for everybody. Everyone’s way is different because everyone’s expression of love is different. Everyone’s prayer may be different but the inner state from where prayers emerge, is the same. Prayer is an inner dance, an expression of joy, a content state of being.


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#SadguruWhispers To taste the bliss of the Self, immerse in devotion of the One absorbed in the Self.