Sadhana by Prayer
by Swami Sivananda
Prayer is the effort of man to commune with the Lord. Prayer is a mighty spiritual force. It is as real as the force of gravity or attraction.
Prayer elevates the mind. It fills the mind with purity. It is associated with the praise of God. It keeps the mind in tune with God. Prayer can reach a realm where reason dares not enter-it can take you to the Spiritual Realm or Kingdom of God. It frees the devotee from the fear of death. It brings him nearer to God and makes him feel his essential, immortal and blissful nature.
The power of Prayer is indescribable. Its glory is ineffable. Sincere devotees only realise its usefulness and splendour. It should be done with reverence, faith Nishkamya Bhava (without expectation of fruits) and with a heart wet with devotion. Do not argue about the efficacy of Prayer. You will be deluded. There is no arguing in spiritual matters. Intellect is a finite and frail instrument. Do not trust this intellect. Remove now the darkness of your ignorance through the light of Prayer.
Draupadi prayed fervently; Lord Krishna ran from Dvaraka to relieve her distress. Gajendra prayed ardently; Lord Hari marched with his disc to protect him. It was the Prayer of Prahlada that rendered cool the boiling oil when it was poured over his head. It was the power of Prayer of Mira that converted the bed of nails into a bed of roses; cobra into a flower garland.
When you pray, you are in tune with the Infinite, you link yourself with the inexhaustible cosmic power-house of energy (Hiranyagarbha) and thus draw power, energy, light and strength from Him.
Prayer does not demand high intelligence or eloquence. God wants your heart when you pray. Even a few words from a humble, pure soul-though illiterate-will appeal to the Lord more than the eloquent, flowing words of an orator or a Pundit.
Even when the medical board has pronounced a case to be hopeless, Prayer comes to the rescue and the patient is miraculously cured. There have been many instances of this description. You might know this. Healing by prayer is really miraculous and mysterious.
He who prays regularly has already started the spiritual journey towards the domain of everlasting peace and perennial joy. That man who does not pray lives in vain.
Prayer has tremendous influence. I have many experiences. If the Prayer is sincere and if it proceeds from the bottom of your heart (Antarika) it will at once melt the heart of the Lord.
Do not pray for the attainment of any selfish ends or mundane gifts. Pray for His mercy. Pray for divine light, purity and spiritual guidance. Pray constantly. "O Lord, let me remember Thee at all times. Let my mind be fixed at Thy lotus-feet. Remove my evil habits."
Prayer generates good spiritual currents and produce tranquillity of the mind. If you pray regularly, your life will be gradually changed and moulded. Prayer must become habitual. If Prayer becomes a habit with you, you will feel as if you cannot live without It.
Prayer can move mountains. Prayer can work miracles. Pray even once from the bottom of your heart: "O Lord, I am Thine. Thy will be done. Have mercy on me. I am Thy servant. Forgive. Guide. Protect. Enlighten. Trahi Mam. Prachodayat." Have a meek, receptive attitude of mind. Cultivate Bhava in your heart. The prayer is at once heard and responded. Do this in the daily battle of life and realise yourself the high efficacy of Prayer. You must have strong Astikya Buddhi (strong conviction in the existence of God).
Do not pray to the Lord with selfish motives. Never pray: "O Lord, let me become rich. Let me have many children, cattle and property. Let my enemies perish. Let me enjoy in heaven for a long time." Never, never pray like this. Never bargain with the Lord. The Lord Himself knows all your needs before you think of asking them. He is the Indweller, Antaryamin. He feeds and clothes the entire universe. Will He ever forget thee?
Christians have different prayers for getting various gifts and bounties from God. Muslims and all other religionists have daily prayers at sunrise, noon, sunset, just before retiring to bed, and just before taking food. Prayer is the beginning of Yoga. Prayer is the first important Anga or limb of Yoga. Preliminary, spiritual Sadhana (Spiritual practice) is Prayer.
A Yogi can actually visualise, through his inner eye, the dynamic and beneficial effects produced on the mind and body by Prayer. Pray to God unselfishly and sincerely. You will get devotion, purity, light and divine knowledge.
Get up in the early morning and repeat some Prayer. Pray in any manner you like. Become as simple as a child. Open freely the chambers of your heart. Discard cunningness or crookedness. You will get everything. Sincere Bhaktas know pretty well about the high efficacy of Prayer. Narada Muni is still praying. Nam Dev prayed and Vittal came out of the image to eat his food. Ekanath prayed and Lord Hari showed His form with four hands. Mira prayed and Lord Krishna served her like a servant. Damaji prayed and Lord Krishna played the part of a menial in paying his dues to Badshah. What more do you want? Pray fervently, right now from this very second.
May you all attain immortality through unselfish and sincere prayers offered to the Lord in the early morning hours! May prayer become part and parcel of your very existence! May the inner eye of intuition be opened in you through prayer!