By Swami Swahananda
The function of the prayer is to create a mental condition which frees the mind from the dead weight of worldly life, helping to soar high to discover subtle or lofty truths. Sincerity is an essential condition for proper prayer.
Prayer is a companion to humility. The primary burden of our embodied state is the sense of ego. Recognition of a higher power who is full of grace & sympathy can bring humility and surrender. Then we can unburden ourselves to Him, the Lord of our heart. Suffering is a door leading to God & prayer unlocks the door.
If prayer is practiced with sincerity, fervor & regularity, a man will surely get ample proof of power to produce the desired effects. And this will encourage him to further the efforts & deeper faith. But even an occasional or untrained prayer has some effect on the mind, attuning it to higher ideas at least for the time being. As the mind id freed from selfish ideas, nobler thoughts rush into fill up the vacuum.
Three types of prayer are mentioned in various scriptures: Petitionary prayer, is most common with ordinary people, beset with difficulties and tossed by numerous desires, who pray for relief from troubles. Intercessory prayer, is another type of prayer which is not for oneself but for others and is more unselfish in motive. The third & highest type of prayer is contemplation. The devotee surrenders his self-interest and takes the attitude of “Thy will be done”.
When this attitude matures, the devotee is fully surrenders himself to God and becomes an offering to God. Faith is recognition of higher power and its loving kindness; a prayer is resignation to that highest Power and utter abandonment to Its will. The more his conviction, the greater is the intensity & more complete is the surrender. The devotee then will let go of his ego completely and says, “Not my will but Thy will be done.”
A devotee prays aloud in the beginning, but as his mind is concentrated, he becomes silent. It is through this primarily mental process that an aspirant gains control over his mind and senses. Then the truth of higher Self becomes apparent to him. He find God dwelling in his heart and longs to see Him. Meditation is thus coupled with adoration and concentration. His mind is divided, as it were, into two halves – the praying self and the Self to which he prays. The intense yearning of the lower self to realize the higher is prayer. This is upasana, or approaching God.
God is the source of energy, and whoever attunes his mind to Him has direct access to that source. He becomes endowed with indomitable enthusiasm & optimism, and when another man comes in contact with him, he in turn absorbs these qualities. This is how men become saints, fisherman have become apostles and ordinary men have becomes heroes. His golden touch can create wonders. Remember, God does not ask for your ability but only your availability.