I was just defining prayer, what it is and how it should be done. First of all, we always pray to somebody in whom we are fully confident that He can give us what we want. Second, we will also be confident that He is competent to give it. We should first have full conviction that there is a God, or there is a Guru, or that somebody exists who will listen to our prayer.
What sort of prayer will succeed? First, you should ask your heart what it wants. It does not consist only of what you speak through your mouth or what you think in your brain. Sometimes you want something and think that it will be good for you, but your heart wants something else. There is no unity. There should be unison between the heart, the tongue and the brain. The prayer which comes from the heart and is expressed through the mouth and in which we have full confidence intellectually, will be heard. Christ said that if you pray to God, you may be answered, but there is some doubt. If you will ask of God in my name, the chances are even greater that He will hear you, but if you will ask me, you shall have what you want. What does this mean? If you pray to God and you are not confident that He exists, or that He is fully competent to grant your prayer, then how can that prayer be heard? Further, that prayer should go out from your heart and your brain and mouth should express the same thing. They should not differ and such a prayer will be heard. So when Christ said if you pray to God, perhaps He may give you what you want, or if you pray to God in my name, your chances will be better, He put even greater emphasis on the fact that a prayer directed to Him would be answered. A man who prayed to Christ when He was on this earth was fully confident that Christ existed because he saw Him. For the same reason, he could be fully confident in His competency.
So if we have got full conviction, full faith in the Master and in His competency, and pray to Him from our heart, our prayer must be heard. Masters who came in the past said that if you would offer such a prayer, God would catch you by the hand and say, “All right child, tell me what you want.” Do you follow me, what I say? God will listen to such a prayer because He sees that your heart, mouth and brain are in accord, and that you have full conviction in His competency to grant it.
Sometimes it so happens that the child insists on having something that is poisonous, even though it is coated with sugar. In this case, what will the mother of the child do? With all her child’s entreating, she may say, “All right child, I will give it to you, be rest assured,” but still she won’t give it. Sometimes what you ask for is not in your ultimate interests and the Father will not give it to you. What should we pray for? Sometimes we pray for certain things and when we get them, we repent. We then pray to God to take them away. But if you pray (the best prayer is always to the Master), “O God, give us that thing which is ultimately for our good”, such a prayer is the ideal and He will give it to you. He knows what is in your best interests, but He won’t give you any poison, mind that!
Some people are rich, some are poor. Some have short lives while others live long. Some are happy, others are in distress. This is all due to the reaction of past karmas and cannot be avoided. We always pray to God for things of this world, but why not pray to Him and say, “O God, we want to meet Thee, come to us or drag us to Thee”. The Master is the media, God speaks through Him. If you pray to the Master, whatever is in your best interests will be given to you. The prayer which comes from the heart and is expressed through the brain and mouth will be heard. When you pray, you should go into your closet and pray all alone. If you are fully confident about your prayer and about the existence of the One to whom you pray and His competency, and that prayer goes out of your heart, naturally it will be answered. For example, there is a story about four different types of devotion that wives have for their husbands. The first type is attached to other men, though outwardly she appears to be fully devoted to her husband. Truly speaking, wives and husbands should be as one soul working in two bodies. We are like the woman who was outwardly devoted to her husband, but was always thinking of others. We have no conviction, we are not devoted wholly and solely to God or to the Master. Some wives are devoted, but they want something in return. That kind of devotion is second class. If she is not given what she wants, she resents it. The third kind of wife will pray to her husband if she wants to have something, but whether he gives it or not, she remains devoted to him. But the fourth and highest type of devoted wife will think, “Well, my husband knows my condition, he sees me daily and will look after my needs. If I am acceptable to him in these ragged clothes, then what more can I want!” This is the highest form of the devoted soul. Whether we are rich or poor, happy or in distress, He sees our fate. We are all His children after all, is it not? So this type is the highest form of devotion.
Although you may place before Him what you want, do not be resentful if He does not grant your prayer. Everything depends on devotion and there are many types, examples of which I have already given you. These are the things to be practised and lived up to. The books give a reference to them, but not in such a clear-cut way as I am giving you now. There are also different degrees of saints. The highest type is like the wife who asks nothing of her husband, but is fully convinced that he will look after her needs. Now you should judge where you stand.
One night I was sitting with my Master, and Dr Julian Johnson was also there. It was about 10 o’clock on a winter day. Johnson put a question to the Master. He asked, “Is it necessary to pray?” The Master replied, from our own level. He said, “The disciple’s work is to pray, but for higher things, not for the worldly things.” If a disciple is not perfect, he demands, he wants something from the Master. When we sit for our prayer, we simply sit like a wrestler, like a gymnastic, and think that we are to go up under our own strength. That is not the way. You should sit in a humble manner and pray, “O God, help us, O Master help us – I am at your door, please raise me up”. To sit at the door, wait and repose all hopes in Him, this sort of prayer will help you. You will have a boost. Suppose you stand in the door and say, “Come in please,” but you don’t leave the door. Then how can He enter?These are the things to be properly understood and lived up to. Perhaps most of you understand them, but do you live up to them? That’s the point. So this sort of prayer will help you. He is your Father and you are His child. The God in the Master is also your Father. You should go straight to Him, without any reservations, just like a child. Christ said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”.
When you sit in your prayer, cut yourself off from outside and have full confidence, full conviction in His competency. Simply pray and wait. If you pray to Him and say, “Come in please,” but don’t leave the door, what is the use of such prayer! It does not matter what religion you belong to. This has got nothing to do with religions. This is something to be done in a practical way. If you want to be accepted at His door, then pray with a one-pointed attention in which you forget the world, and in the way that I have just told you. If you live up to it, your prayer will succeed.
From “Morning Talks”, by Sant Kirpal Singh