(1) Nature of Prayer
The Divine Mind is unchangeable, but that Divinity is in everyone and
everything — animate and inanimate. The meaning of prayer is that I want
to invoke that Divinity in me. ... I beg it of myself, of my Higher
Self, the Real Self, with which I have not yet achieved complete
identification. You may, therefore, describe it as a continual longing
to lose myself in the Divinity which comprises all.
Prayer really is complete meditation and melting into the Higher Self,
though one occasionally does lapse into imploration like that of a child
to his father. I would not call it lapse. It is more in the fitness of
things to say that I pray to God who exists somewhere in the clouds and
the more distant He is, the greater is my longing for Him and I find
myself in His presence in thought. And thought, you know, has a greater
velocity than light. Therefore, the distance between me and Him though
so incalculably great, is obliterated. He is so far and yet so near.
(2) Source of Peace and Light
There is an eternal struggle raging in man's breast between the powers
of Darkness and Light, and he who has the sheet-anchor of prayer to rely
upon, will not be a victim to powers of Darkness. The man of prayer will
be at peace with himself and with the whole world and the man who goes
about the affairs of world without a prayerful heart will be miserable
and will also make the world miserable.
It is a universal experience that every calamity brings a sensible man down
on his knees. He thinks that it is God's answer to his sins and he must
henceforth behave better. His sins have left him hopelessly weak and in
his weakness he cries out God for help. Thus millions of human beings
used their personal calamities for self-improvement.
Prayer is the only means of bringing about orderliness and peace and
repose in our daily acts.
(3) The Essence and Power of Prayer
He who hungers for the awakening of the Divine in him, must fall back on
prayer. . . . But it is not a repetition of an empty formula. ... It is
better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without heart.
It must be in clear response to the spirit which hungers for it. And
even as a hungry man relishes a hearty meal, a hungry Soul will relish
a heartfelt prayer. And I am giving you a bit of my experience and
that of my companions when I say that he who has experienced the magic
of prayer, may do without food for days together but not a single moment
without prayer. For without prayer there is no peace.
Prayer is no flight of eloquence. It is no lip- homage. It springs from
the heart. If, therefore, we achieve that purity of the heart, when it
is emptied of all but love, if we keep all the chords in proper tune,
they "trembling pass in music out of sight". Prayer needs no speech. I
have not the slightest doubt that prayer is an unfailing means of
cleansing the heart of passions. But it must be combined with utmost
Our prayer is a heart-search. It is a reminder to ourselves that we are
helpless without His support. No effort is complete without prayer,
without a definite recognition that the best human endeavour is of no
effect if it has not God's blessings behind it. Prayer is a call to
humility. It is a call to self-purification.
(4) Patience Necessary for Success
Real prayer is an absolute shield and protection against . . . evils.
Success does not always attend the very first effort at such a living
prayer. We have to strive against ourselves, we have to believe in spite
of ourselves, because months are as our years. We have, therefore, to
cultivate illimitable patience if we will realize the efficacy of
prayer. There will be darkness, disappointment and even worse; but we
must have courage enough to battle against all these and not succumb to
cowardice. There is no such thing as retreat for a man of prayer.
It may take time for the recitation to come from the heart, even as a seed
sown has to be nurtured and bears fruit only in due season. If the
desire to have God within us is there, progress, however slow, is bound
to be. Man cannot be transformed from bad to good, overnight. God does
not exercise magic. He too is within His own Law. His Law, however, is
different from the law of the State. There may be mistakes in the latter
but God cannot err. If He were to go beyond the limits of His Law, the
world would be lost. He is changeless, unchanging, unequalled, the same
yesterday, today and forever. His Law is written on the tablets of their
hearts. They could become changed men and women, only if they had the
desire of reform and if they were prepared for ceaseless endeavour.
(5) Period of Prayer
There can be no fixed rule laid down as to the time these devotional
acts should take place. It depends upon individual temperaments. There
are precious moments in one's daily life. The exercises are intended to
sober and humble us and enable us to realize that nothing happens
without His will and that we are but "clay in the hands of the Potter".
These are moments when one reviews one's immediate past, confesses one's
weaknesses, asks for forgiveness and strength to be and to do better.
One minute may be enough for some, twenty-four hours would be too little
for others. For those who are filled with the presence of God in them,
to labour is to pray. The life is one continuous prayer or act of
worship. For those who act only to sin, to indulge themselves and to
live for self, no time is too much. If they had patience and faith and
the will to be pure, they would pray till they feel the definite
purifying presence of God within them. For us ordinary mortals there
must be a middle path between these two extremes. We are not so exalted
as to be able to say that all our acts are a dedication, nor perhaps
are we so far gone, as to living purely for self. Hence have all
religions set apart times for general devotion.
(6) Begin and Close the Day with Prayer
I believe that prayer is the very soul and essence of religion and
therefore prayer must be the very core of the life of man. . .
Begin, therefore, your day with prayer and make it so soulful that it
may remain with you until evening. Close the day with prayer so that you
may have a peaceful night free from dreams and nightmares. Do not worry
about the forms. Let it be any form; it should be such as can put us in
communion with the Divine. Only let not the spirit wander while the
words of prayer run on out of your mouth.