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THE POWER OF PRAYER: Prayer Can Play An Important Role In Our Lives

By Zile Singh

Prayer is a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or any other deity or even to an individual.  It is a formation of a sequence of words. Prayer has an important role in the life of all of us.  Different religions have different ways of prayers. It stays recognizable despite its different forms. But the real essence of all the prayers is the same. Prayer calms down our mind and gives a sense of relaxation. A popular conception about  prayer is that if we have faith in God, pray diligently and if the cause we are praying is a righteous one, as the health of another person, then God will intervene in a supernatural way to make our prayer come true.

Prayer is one of the most important things in all religions.  It is beneficial even to a non-believer.  Prayer is to come near to God and an individual.  It protects and changes us.  Prayer brings light to darkness and a breakthrough in one’s life. It is a prerequisite to spiritual awakening. Prayer is an intimate, deep and unfettered and close love towards God.  Prayer is beyond knowledge.  Through earnest prayer, we come to know as to what is too deep to be known.  Prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  Therefore, pray for the emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing of yourself and all around you.  It helps us to face and overcome all types of struggles.  Bible says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Also, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”

The art of praying has been perfected in Hinduism for centuries.  Some of the earliest Rig Vedic prayers are probably 6000-7000 years old.  They contain a poetic value, metrical purity, imagination and deep symbolism that speak highly of the mental brilliance of the people who conceived them and used them in their ritual and spiritual practices. A devout Hindu is expected to pray to the Sun and other gods in the morning, at noon and in the evening before going to bed.  They also pray for divine help to achieve success, peace and happiness on important occasions such as conception, birth, marriage, pregnancy etc.

Unlike members of many other religions, the Sikhs pray to God in his true abstract form, without any image or idol.  Their prayer can be public or private.  The Sikh code of conduct lays down a strict discipline for the start of the day.  A Sikh should wake up in the early hours’ Amrit Vela’, three hours before the dawn, take a bath and concentrate his thoughts on One Immortal Being and repeat the name of Waheguru (Wondrous Destroyer of darkness).  Guru Arjan Dev wrote the importance of prayer thus: “The praising of His Name is the highest of all practices.  It has uplifted many a human soul.  It calms down the desires of a restless mind.  It imparts an all-seeing vision.”

In Buddhism, prayer can take on many forms depending on sect or region.  Their most common method of prayer is meditation.  During meditation, a Buddhist may pray for the happiness and well being of all sentient beings or may focus attention on one individual who needs help.  The Buddhist prayer is not only an expression of gratitude for precious human life, but it is also a practice of inner transformation and developing acceptance,  compassion, knowledge and wisdom.

The importance of Prayer in Islam cannot be understated.  It is the first pillar of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith.  Allah has declared the obligatory status of prayer directly to Moses.  He said, “And I have chosen you, so listen to that which is inspired to you.  Verily, I am Allah.  There is none worthy of worship and prayer but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My remembrance.”  In Islam, if the prayer is sound, the rest of the deeds will be sound and if the prayers are not sound and proper then the rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper.

 

Keeping a secular point of view of prayer, Yehuda Amichai, an Israeli poet wrote, “Gods change up in heaven, gods get replaced, but prayers are here to stay.” To illustrate his point he gave the example that history is a witness where churches were converted into Buddhist temples and Sikh Gurdwaras. Similarly, many Hindu temples were converted into the mosques and vice versa.  In some places, both the deities are worshipped simultaneously.  As the bell rings, people stand, the priest enters and everybody bows in reverence to Lord Jesus.   Then the meditation begins.  The monks take refuge in Trisharnam: Buddham sharnam gachami, Dhammam sharnam gachami, Sangham sharnam gachami.

 

“Prayer is not asking.  It is a longing of the soul.  It is daily admission of one’s weaknesses. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca

 

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