Every spiritual path stresses the importance of ‘prayer’. But rather than performing prayers blindly or praying for material gains, let us understand the science behind prayers. Prayers performed with the right understanding will have tremendous impact on our well-being and spiritual progress.
First, the act of prayer is the act of focusing our attention fully on lofty spiritual qualities or elevated spiritual beings that we would like to emulate. Why do we praise these lofty spiritual qualities and spiritually elevated beings? Because by doing so we start to develop these qualities in our self. Some of us might remember the advice we got when we first learnt to aim a ball: “Look at the object you are aiming at. Then you are much more likely to hit it”. Similarly we are likely to hit our mark of achieving spiritual understanding by focusing and praising these transcendent qualities that others have achieved. Then slowly we will find our self developing these qualities within us. It is a remarkable principle.
Finally, prayer is an act of humility. When we bow down and join our hands in prayer, we are acknowledging that we have yet to learn many things. We are sublimating our ego and emptying the impurities within us. The lowering of one’s ego is in itself a spiritually elevating process, a way to slowly dissolve our firm grip on our false sense of self.
Dadashri says that, ‘Prarthana’ (પ્રાર્થના – the word ‘Prayer’ written in Gujarati) has derived from ‘પ્ર’ + ‘અર્થના’ (Pr + Arthna = Pr-arthana). It means ‘to seek from God, for something extra, to aspire for that which is beyond.’
A prayer should always be true and from ones’ heart for it to give dividends, yet a very few, say a one in a hundred might be able to do so. A true prayer is offered when ones’ ‘chit’ is not wandering off in worldly affairs. By praying one is ‘searching’ for ones’ true self. Although God resides in each of us but being unaware about the fact we go looking for Him at various places.
Well let’s understand ‘destiny’ (‘prarabdh’ in Gujarati). ‘Prarabdh’ is of different types, first which can ‘dissolve’ or ‘evaporate’ with the help of prayers, another is where it can be ‘dissolved’ with minimal of spiritual efforts (‘purusharth’) and finally which cannot be ‘dissolved’ at all and one has to suffer through it, come what may. To give you a better idea on this let me give you a simple example.
You are walking on the street and somebody from a nearby building happened to spit out and it fell on your shirt. Now in case that content is mild it can be easily washed off by pouring some water over it but in case it is strong or ‘sticky’ then would it be possible to wash it simply with the help of water? No, it wouldn't be, right? These ‘sticky’ or ‘intense’ karmas are termed (in religious scriptures) as ‘nikachit’ karmas. These, one has to suffer at all costs. ‘Prarthana’, shall not help ‘dissolve’ them but shall surely help give peace when one has to bear them. It shall also not increase ones capacity to bear those ‘karmas’ but shall help give relief by giving stability and internal peace to go through that phase. But at the same time when the circumstances are difficult and the mind is clustered with thoughts it’s really difficult for one to remember to pray, one is totally ‘blanked out’ at such times and completely forgets about praying. It would be an achievement if one can take to prayers at such times, and that too if one reminisces a ‘Gnani’ then only is it possible.
So with these few understanding & intentions in mind let us look at the wealth of prayers that Dadashri has given us. Reciting these will have tremendous benefit in reducing obstacles for spiritual progress, in cultivating the right understanding, in reducing conflict, and in making our life peaceful & blissful!