A Joyful Privilege
In our demanding and busy world, there is one place where each of us can take refuge – a place where we can be serene, peaceful and filled with love. The most precious time for a sincere seeker of the Lord is that silent moment when he goes within in prayer.
As children, we were taught the importance of prayer. It may have been just a simple verse we recited daily in the morning or before going to bed at night. This way, we learned how to call out for help to a higher Being, and to whom we could show our gratitude.
As we grew up and learned more about the world around us, sadly, the reason for our prayers changed. We began to see our loving Father as a Provider – someone who could satisfy our material needs. We complained to him about all the things we did not have and asked him for things we wanted. In doing so, we ignored all the gifts that he had blessed us with, and kept asking for more.
Simple logic tells us, that if the Lord to whom we put all our various requests has the power to give, then he must also have the power to know. And if he has the power to know, then why do we need to ask at all?
You are a temple of God, and the Lord is living in that temple day and night. Does he not know what his temple needs? The One who has created you is more anxious about you and takes much more care of you, is more concerned about you, than you are about yourself.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint Matthew
From this it becomes natural to wonder whether we should ask for anything at all from the Lord. At times, life throws us some very difficult challenges. And we only have his door to knock on. Who else can we turn to in our helplessness? The mystics explain to us that it is only natural that we turn to him for help, and ask for strength to bear our troubles. He is after all our loving Father, who only wants what is best for us. But how can we ask him to change our circumstances when whatever we are going through is the result of our own past actions? Prayer will not change our destiny or our karmas, but it will give us the strength to face these difficulties without losing our balance, and without losing faith. Saint Thérèse de Lisieux puts it this way:
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart, a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.
Collected Poems of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Prayer, therefore, should not be something we resort to on a part-time basis. It should be a way of life that allows us to feel connected to the Lord throughout the day. For one who has established that precious connection with the divine, prayer becomes indispensable. Like a life support system, it becomes a part of one’s being. Without it, life is empty. Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
There’s no question of devoting half an hour or an hour praying to the Lord – our whole day should be passed in prayer, in devotion and love for the Father. Prayer means just to live in love and devotion for the Father. That is constant prayer. No particular words are required; no set prayers are required to be repeated.
Prayer is a language of love from the heart to the Father, and nobody exists then between you and the Father. You’re not conscious of the world when you pray to him. He exists and you exist. That is the real prayer; and that is only possible at the time of meditation when we try to forget all that we are and where we are.
Die to Live
Prayer should come from the heart, and the heart speaks without language, without words. No set prayers move him, but the prayer from the heart moves him. We should be in tune with the Lord, with our heart; that is the right prayer – to be always in constant communion with him.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
The Masters teach us that meditation is the best prayer that we can offer to the Lord; for it opens our hearts to receive his love and grace. We gain strength that helps us face our destiny. Meditation is the way we demonstrate our willingness to live in the will of the Lord. It is how we become closer to God and build a true relationship with him.
Through meditation, we express our gratitude to the Father; we silently communicate from the depths of our being how anxious we are to become one with him. Through this form of prayer, we invoke the Father’s grace to forgive us for whatever we have done in the past.
The opportunity to pray is a gift from God. Life keeps us occupied in so many ways – yet, however busy we may be and whatever demands are made of us, it is through prayer, through our meditation, that we make time for our Beloved, and in doing so we obey him and please him. If we look upon our time in meditation as a ‘joyful privilege’, then it becomes the most important part of our day. After all, meditation is that special time when we are alone with our inner Master, when he is there, just for us – one on one. It is the time when we receive his greatest gifts – his presence and his love. Can anything in this world give us greater joy than this?
In order to pray correctly, it is necessary that we should go inside and shut the outer doors, withdraw our attention from the body, and direct it to the feet of the Beloved. In this sacred place, pray to the Master, the incarnation of the Lord. He will appear and will lend a helping hand. Such a prayer will be accepted. To lose oneself in the remembrance of the Lord, with inner purity and sincere feelings, is true prayer. This should not be merely for show or ostentation. It should be with sincere feelings and not mere verbal effusion. If a prayer is made with true inner feelings, then the all-powerful Lord listens and invaluable benefits accrue from His mercy.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III