In our hectic daily life we lose our mental peace. And that peace is obtained through praying. Praying bestows us with the strength of faith and God’s blessings. Prayer is a sadhana that is devoid of restraints. Let us see when, where and how should we pray and whom should we pray.
1. When and where should we pray ?
Prayer is a sadhana that is devoid of restraints.
A. No restraint of place
Just like chanting, the sadhana (Spiritual practice) of prayers can be performed at any place, such as in front of a Deity, in a house, in a courtyard, office, field, school, hotel, hospital, while traveling, sitting or lying in bed, etc. In the initial stage, it is better to pray in front of a Deity to attain concentration. Later, praying can be done in other places too.
B. No restraint of time
Pray regularly, from morning till bed-time, not just during moments of sorrow but also during happy moments. (To maintain consistency in prayers, develop a habit of praying every 10 minutes. Methods such as setting an alarm on a mobile phone, requesting others to remind you, etc. can be implemented. )
C. No restraints of purity-impurity
Just like chanting, there are no restraints of purity or soyar–sutak (Impurity arising out of birth-death in the family) for praying.
2. Whom should we pray ?
A. At first stage an ordinary individual should pray to his Kuladevata (Family Deity) or Deity of worship, while an individual who has a Guru should pray to his Guru.
B. At second stage, in addition to the prayers in the first stage, pray to the Deity associated with the respective task. For example, pray to the Deity of water before bathing and to Shri Annapurṇadevi before a meal. This makes us realise the importance of the respective Deity and enhances our bhav (Spiritual emotion) of gratitude unto that Deity.
C. At third stage, in addition to the prayers mentioned under first and second stage, pray unto the instruments/tools that are of assistance in the respective task. For example, the user of a mobile phone should pray to the mobile phone and a housewife should pray to the utensils, stove, etc. required for cooking. In this manner, an individual will learn to see the God Principle in all animate and inanimate objects. During the course of our sadhana, we have to move towards worship of one Deity from the worship of many Deities. Despite this, we have advised praying to various Deities and tools. The objective underlying such prayers is also explained at the respective places. When diehard faith that ‘There is no other easier path for deliverance except surrendering unto the Guru’s Holy feet’ develops for the Guru or Deity of worship, prayers mentioned under second and third stage need not be made.
3. How should we pray ?
Keep the mind steady and calm during the prayer.
Join the hands in a namaskar-mudra (The palms joined and held at the level of the Anahatchakra [which lies at the centre of the chest], but a little away from the body).
Visualise that the Deity or Guru is actually present in front of you or visualise the Holy feet of the Deity or Guru.
Concentrate on the Holy feet of the Deity or Guru for a few moments.
Pray in clear words. In the initial stages, to get used to praying, pray aloud. Later, it can be done mentally.
Concentrate on the words in the prayer and their meaning.
Instead of praying as if you are reading it out, try to communicate with God / Guru in a precise manner. For example, while praying that ‘let the obstacles in my sadhana be eliminated’, recall the obstacles that are repeatedly disturbing your sadhana and convey them to the Deity / Guru in a precise manner.
Express gratitude unto the Deity / Guru for the fact that they themselves have got the prayer made through you.
Once the importance of praying is understood, a numerical increase in it is expected initially. In the initial stages, praying takes place merely as a mechanical exercise of repeating words and is devoid of bhav. In the subsequent stages, a qualitative increase in praying is expected, that is, it is expected to be made with bhav.
Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text, ‘Prayer – Importance and Examples’