Conversation with God

by Mary Pomerantz

Anyone who believes in God has prayed.  There are prayers of devotion, prayers of love, prayers of gratitude, prayers of petition and prayers of contemplation.  All faith traditions pray.  Their followers pray together and they pray alone.

Thursday, May 3 was our National Day of Prayer in the United States.  This tradition started in 1952 when the first Thursday in May was designated by the President and Congress as a day for national union through prayer. President Obama talked about prayer in our nation when he addressed an assembly in Washington:

Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.  On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience.

The saints of Sant Mat have also talked about prayer.  Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj, a saint from the past century, has written: “Prayer is the salt of life and we cannot do without it.  It is ingrained in the nature of human beings to pray for the fulfillment of their wishes, whatever they be.”

We all need a friend who loves us enough to listen to our troubles.  A true friend listens with love and does not judge us.  A true friend never interrupts us.  God is our best friend.  God is available to us 24-7 and loves us more than we can imagine, and is waiting for us to begin our dialogue.

In a conversation, there is always a talker and always a listener.  In our divine conversation, when we pray we are talking to God.  When we listen to God, we are meditating and waiting for what God has to reveal to us.  We sit quietly, stilling the body and the mind.  We sit attentively to accept the gift that God brings to us when we sit with a loving, receptive heart.  The saints call this true prayer.  Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj says:

When prayers end in a silent devotional yearning for union, without words, without
thoughts, we have reached the highest form of prayer, which is meditation. When we sit still and
keep our mind still, we have discovered the key to meditation. In that state of meditation, all
prayers are answered. For what is it that we ultimately pray? The end result of our prayers is
happiness, peace, and bliss. We may think we are praying for a car, a house, a partner, or wealth,
but it is the happiness they bring that makes them appealing. We may think that the attainments
of the world hold the answer to our search for happiness, but they are all illusions. The happiness
we seek in worldly attainments is not real, but through meditation we attain permanent bliss— we
are filled with waves of divine love, peace, and joy. In that state what is left for which we need to
pray? Through meditation, the happiness we sought in outer possessions is now ours; we have
everything and require nothing more.

In the state Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj describes, prayer itself ceases to be a prayer and becomes a state of being, as one gradually rises into cosmic consciousness, with the Divine will fully revealed.  This is the be all and end all of prayer.

Let us not forget when we have our conversations with God to take the time to listen.  The message that we receive could fill us with a profound sense of joy and peace and could change our lives forever.

True Prayer

by Mary Pomerantz

There is a story from the life of Rabia Basri, who was an eighth century Sufi saint.  Once, a man came to visit her wearing a bandage on his head.  “Why are you wearing this bandage and moaning so loudly?” she asked him.  He told her that his head was giving him great pain.  She asked him, “How long have you had this pain?”  “One day,” he replied.  She laughed and told him sharply, “For forty years you have lived without any pain in your head, but for this one day you are bandaging your head and complaining to God.  Why did you not wear the bandage of gratefulness to God for the other forty years when you did not have a headache?”

This is the state for most of us.  We only focus on God when we want something, but we forget God when everything is going our way.  “Dear God, can you help me find a really good job?”  “Oh God, my child is sick.  Please take his pain away.”  “Beloved God, I am lonely.  Can you find me a husband?”  Our list of requests is never-ending. It is said that Rabia decided to dedicate her life to thanking God for everything that happened to her.  She accepted everything as the will of God and prayed only to live by God’s will.  She absorbed herself in meditation to listen to God and accept what God wanted to send to her.

Meditation is a key component of a contented life.   We often think that the things of the world are what bring us happiness, and so we go through life pursuing those worldly treasures. But true joy and happiness, spiritual Masters teach, is found within us. We discover those riches through meditation.  Meditation is a simple practice of closing our eyes to the world outside, quieting our mind of distracting thoughts, and opening ourselves up to the joy and bliss of spiritual love. The more we make meditation part of our lives, the happier and more peaceful we become.

While prayer is a good thing because we are focusing on God, if our mind is continually talking, we will not be able to listen to what God is trying to tell us.  We listen to God in meditation.  As Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj tells us,

The reunion (with God) transpires when we sit in quietude and listen with our entire being to the whispers of the Lord calling us to return Home.  But we have to stop listening to the ceaseless chatter of the world and our mind.  We have to stop our never-ending complaints and grumbling in the form of prayers to the Lord to grant us fulfillment of our continual desires.  As long as we are praying, we are too busy speaking to listen.

Rabia Basri, and saints and mystics like her, knew the true meaning of prayer.  They only wanted to be reunited with God.  They didn’t pray for name and fame or any other thing of this world.  They only prayed for divine vision and their ultimate union with God.

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj tells us what true prayer is:

If we were to spend a day with God, we would find that it is only a rare few who pray to God only for God.  Suchlike prayers catch God’s attention.  God is the giver and most people want God’s gifts.  God is moved by the prayers of those who want God alone.  That is the true purpose of prayer.

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