This is the procedure of an ordinary prayer. It is different from meditation, from the deep prayer in the form of ‘ So-Ham ’ or ‘ I am Shiva ’ which is called ahangraha.
1. A prayer begins with a deep sense and expression of one’s humility, incapacity for serious worship or study.
2. This feeling creates a vacuum in the mind, which is filled by the next step. It is adoration of the Lord in the highest terms. It is the contemplation of His glory and majesty, His almightiness and omniscience. The abstract picture is made as vivid as possible. This idea is well expressed in the first verse of the Isha Upanishad :
“ Cover all the moveable and the immoveable in the universe with God ”.
3. The third step in a prayer is one’s association as a worshipper, as a servant of the Lord, and a desire for His grace to fill the whole personality with sattva (Peace and light). This state is preceded by a negation of the limited self. The mind rises in adoration like a wave in the sea. It subsides in its substratum like the light of the moon withdrawn from the earth.
By recognition of the essentiality of prayer in life and the deepest importance of it to good living, that part of the self which is given to desire and aversion (raga and dwesha) is slowly eliminated. Being done with interest, prayer should become automatic, that is habitual. The habit is not difficult to form. It is only a matter of interest and the recognition of its importance. The Lord is to be considered as Infinity. Any narrowness of conception, exclusion of any from His grace and compassion, any insistence on a narrow creed, renders the mind incapable of true prayer.
To focus the mind either on an Incarnation of the Lord, like Rama, Krishna, Jesus, or on His abstract form as Sat-Chit-Ananda, the mind must not become stale or static.
Shri Dada used to pray to Rama and then to Jesus and to his Guru the Paramahansa Krishnananda Swami. In this way, a habit is formed and the spiritual truth contained in a prayer animates your soul.
How do we know of the success of our prayer ?
By a harmonious (sattvic) life undisturbed by worldly considerations or persons, by the acquisition of the spiritual wealth mentioned in the Gita, by want of attachment to any object of the world and by growing love for God.
Prayer must influence our life and make it like a stream of limpid water, in which the moon and the stars are reflected, which moves on and on to be merged in the infinite sea.