Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines. Satchel Paige
Prayer is often looked upon as a critical option available to us to be used in emergencies. It is used more often like a joker is used in some card games; to add value when required. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that most of us resort to prayer in desperation. Prayer offers us a psychological escape and comfort from the fears and worries that plague us. We seek cures from illness, a way out of our problems, expect miracles to be performed and pray fervently in hope. Prayer though really revolves around in faith. As a preacher asked a large congregation gathered to pray for rains ‘How many of you have come here with an umbrella in hand?’ ‘If you have no faith’ he went on,’ why do you expect your prayers to be answered?’
The essence of prayer though remains ‘communication with the almighty’. Since communication is a two way process, we need to listen more than we mouth our prayers. Good communication is also spontaneous and open. Our prayers unfortunately are recited by rote, parroted without feeling and loaded with selfish intent. In the process we only seek to get favorable answers and anything short of it is seen as wasted prayer and / or unanswered prayer. Very rarely does it dawn on us that God in his infinite wisdom has chosen to deliberately not answer our prayer for he has better plans for us. It takes a lot of wisdom and listening from the heart to hear GOD loudly proclaim his negative verdict to our ardent plea. Here is one such enlightened response, to the unfortunate early demise of a young lad in his early teens, by his distraught but God fearing family, who got the following words engraved on the tomb stone’ Being pleasing to God and beloved, he was transferred, lest wickedness chance his understanding or deceit beguile his soul’
It is essential that we appreciate and thank the almighty for all the blessings we are fortunate to have. This too is done through our prayer of thanks not necessarily verbal but in varied actions, deeds and gratefulness. A smile, a pat on the back, a few encouraging words to someone in pain, sparing time to be with the weak, the sick, the lonely are perhaps the most beautiful prayers that one can articulate effectively. Getting control over our extreme emotions, overcoming our shortcomings and bad habits and accepting those whom we despise are prayers of a very high order for we have to make a great effort to offer those as prayers. The ultimate prayer is loving everyone including our enemy, being a loveable person and spreading good cheer, happiness and love around. Unless we can offer up this prayer, our prayers will remain incomplete and possibly remain ineffective. Recollect the anecdote of two nuns who were getting late to catch a train. Suddenly one of them told the other let us kneel down and pray that we get the train. The other nun suggested that they run towards the station while praying hard all the way and perhaps their prayers would be answered.
Remember: “All prayers are answered if we are willing to admit that sometimes the answer is “no”
- Ask your friends from another religious belief to share with you some short prayers and their meanings. Compare it with the essence of your own personal favorite prayers. The most common thread would possibly be the reality that most prayers have some reference to praising GOD.
- Ask yourself if you ever practice prayer. This means do you patiently listen to God? Do you serve people who are in need in any way? Do you offer prayers as a ritual or out of fear? What more can you do to enhance the quality of your prayers?
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