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.