With intense humility unto God, pleading with yearning for a desired aspect is termed as a ‘prayer’. A prayer includes respect, love, pleading and faith. A prayer expresses the helplessness of the devotee and his state of surrender, and he keeps offering his doership to God. There is a noble adage – ‘Open the door of a day at dawn with the key of prayer and shut it with the latch of prayer at night’. In our hectic daily life we lose our mental peace. That peace is obtained through praying. Even the impossible becomes possible because praying bestows us with the strength of faith and God’s blessings. Let us understand why should we pray to God.
1. Why Should We Pray – Importance of prayer
A. Developing love and respect for a Deity
With the aim of developing closeness with God and the Deities and to develop love and respect for them, we should pray. Praying creates an awareness that ‘God, Deity and Guru are going to get everything done through me.’
B. Success in a task
When a desired task is undertaken after praying to a Deity, the task is blessed by the Deity. Besides, praying increases our Ātma–shakti (Energy of the soul) and confidence. As a result, the task achieves excellence and success.
C. Attaining peace of mind
While performing a task after praying, peace of mind is attained and a task performed peacefully and with a steady mind is done well.
D. Worship that takes the worshipper from the gross to the subtle
People worship God to attain peace of mind in a demanding day-to-day life and to gradually move towards God-realisation. Most people, however, continue all through their life with daily ritualistic worship, other religious rituals, etc. that are a part of karmakanḍa (Spiritual practice of rites, rituals and observances performed at the physical level).
Worship according to karmakanḍa is at a gross level. God, however, is subtle in nature. Thus, worship to attain God should be one that takes us from the ‘gross to the subtle’. A prayer offered to God is at the mental level and hence, it an easy form of worship that takes us from the ‘gross to the subtle’.
E. An effortless path of communion with God
While performing sadhana (Spiritual practice), remaining in communion with God is important. Praying to God at short and regular intervals makes it easier to establish communion with God.
F. Generation of faith and bhav towards the Deity
Due to the prayer, a Deity showers grace, and spiritual experiences are its result. This helps in generation of faith and bhav (Spiritual emotion) towards that Deity.
G. Importance of a collective prayer
Collective prayers and hailing of God generate a specific harmonious reverberation that is capable of generating Holy waves in the environment. At such times, the mind concentrates on the sound due to which the faculties of memory and hearing develop further. Therefore, a collective prayer is considered important in schools.
2. Why Should We Pray – Benefits of prayer
Praying imparts benefits at all the three levels of activity, thought and attitude. Benefits of prayer across both worldly and spiritual aspects to an individual has now been proved through scientific experiments too. Hence through this article we shall understand the various benefits of prayer.
A. Helps in becoming introvert
1. Activity : Praying makes an activity abound in bhav (Spiritual emotion), leading to fewer mistakes in the activity and hence, seva (service) unto God or Guru turns out as expected.
2. Thought : So long as the mind is active, thoughts are bound to appear in it. Thoughts obstruct the dissolution of the mind. Undesirable thoughts also result in misuse of energy of the mind. Praying is useful in preventing this misuse. Praying reduces anxiety and increases contemplation.
3. Attitude : Due to praying regularly, its impression is created on the mind and contemplation starts on it. Therefore, the attitude of an individual or a seeker starts becoming introverted.
B. Removal of mental stress
1. When under mental stress, remembrance of God through a prayer relieves the stress and we are reminded of chanting God’s Name too.
2. Due to a prayer, doership of a task or seva is offered to God and hence, the mind is not stressed.
C. Reduction of ego
Ego generates unhappiness in human life. Man surrenders unto the all-powerful God through the medium of a prayer. He pleads to God through a prayer. This helps in early reduction of his ego.
D. Forgiven by God or Guru
When an individual who has committed a mistake surrenders unto God or Guru through a prayer, they forgive him.
3. Why Should We Pray – Spiritual significance
Picture based on subtle-knowledge depicting the subtle-benefits of praying to God with a spiritual emotion
4. Westerners becoming aware of the importance of prayers
The westerners are only now becoming aware of the importance of prayers mentioned in Hindu scriptures thousands of years ago !
Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Imoto studied the effect of prayer, music, positive words, chanting and environment on water and food. He also photographed the effects of changes that take place with or without a prayer, western and classical music and positive and negative words. He concluded that prayers, music, positive words, chanting have an exceptionally positive effect on water and food. Our body consists of 72% water. Therefore, positive words have a beneficial effect on our health and vice versa.
B. During his childhood, Dr. Imoto was taught by his mother to pray before meals. He says that praying is not just an action for feeling, but it is truly beneficial.
C. We greet so many people on their birthdays, achievements, festivals, celebrations and during examinations, in positive words. The objective underlying these actions is the same, adds Dr. Imoto.
5. Eternal Anand (Bliss) in life is possible only
when prayers are accompanied by all facets of sadhana !
A prayer amounts to surrendering unto the Holy feet of God. Surrender reduces ego and leads to attaining God’s grace. Only the grace of God makes our life successful and we get real Anand in life. The only way to attain eternal Anand in life is to perform sadhana (Spiritual practice) constantly. Prayer is but one aspect of sadhana; to attain constant Anand in our life, we have to support it with constant sadhana that consists of all the other aspects. Therefore, chant the Name of your Family Deity for a minimum of 1 hour everyday, and later constantly. Similarly, to protect yourself from the distress of dissatisfied subtle bodies of departed ancestors, chant the Name ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ for 2-6 hours every day, depending upon the severity of the distress. Participate in satseva (Service unto Absolute truth) by joining spiritual organisations. Perform sadhana covering these various aspects.
Reference : Sanatan’s Holy Text, ‘Prayer – Importance and Examples’