What is prayer?
(a) It takes the form with some of singing the praises of a personal God. The mind dwells on His attributes of Love, Mercy and Compassion, and forgetting the limitations of the body in the ecstasy of Love, the worshipper grows, and expands in consciousness. But if at this stage he limits his God, and regards Him as the God of his own individual religion, clan or race, then he is only hindering his own spiritual growth.
Asking for individual favours is not prayer. When one prays the aim should be to forget all worldly affairs, and fill the heart with love, compassion, purity, power, beauty, rising to God consciousness.
Concentration per se is not a great or wonderful thing, but it is the preparation of the mind for prayer.
(b) Prayer must be dynamic. When the mind is able to lose itself in the contemplation of a personal God, and feels exaltation and spiritual joy, then the second step is to imagine God as present every where, really all-pervasive, to live all the time in His Presence, and let the mind and heart breathe His fragrance.
“Cover all with God, the entire universe and its contents; be active, but calm.”
Now, after spending some time in prayer, we must try to carry it into our lives and dwell in the Presence of God all day.
Sin or sorrow is thus not seen, none is blamed, none condemned; all, all is covered with the Beloved.
“With the eye of the heart see nothing but the friend.
Whatever thou seest, know it to be His manifestation.”
The one who can live thus radiates Love and Peace, and his presence carries goodwill and joy in its train.
(c) In the third stage of prayer, when the heart has been purified, the devotee sees God. What is meant by the purity of the heart? It means that all phenomena are regarded as hollow, as mere illusion, as a shadow of the great Substance, God. The devotee now sits calm, and by a careful self analysis in this exalted state, finds that he is neither the body nor the mind, but God, and God only.
His prayer now is:
“I am Infinite, I am God, and I am All. Shivohum (I am Bliss) I am OM.”
He realises his Spirit to be Immortal, Infinite, and Perfect. The dew-drop has slipped into the sea. He sees freedom in his own Self, and in that of others.
This becomes a perpetual prayer. As the wave cannot go beyond the sea, so do his mind and feelings-whatever their state-live in Eternal Truth, the Consciousness Absolute.
The Teacher used to pray:
“Give us all Thy Love. Lead us all to Thy Knowledge, O my beloved Krishna.”
There must not be an “I “in true prayer, it must be for all.