A close relative doing his duty in a war-zone ; a patient undergoing operation ; a child being delivered ; someone waiting for the results of medical-test – these are some of the situations where we find ourselves quite helpless. There could be five different types of responses from us : Think of the worst, which is most common ; make the mind blank, that is difficult to do ; divert one’s attention by engaging in something else, which is not always possible ; stay positive, which requires great control over the mind ; and finally, pray for the well-being, which is an easy and practical solution.
Then why don’t we pray ? Why do we speculate endlessly thinking of the worst possible scenarios ? This is because we are habituated to speculate, taking this to be superior intelligence. Also, we are too proud to seek help considering that to be a sign of weakness. But the intelligent thing to do is to have faith in the existence of God. One should be knowledgeable about His relationship with us, possible response from Him, acquaintance about His merciful disposition and, most importantly, know that saying prayers is a practical weapon in our armoury to live well in this world.
God really helps if we pray. He helps because praying is a form of surrender, in which we humbly accept the fact that we are small and quite helpless. Prayer with a feeling of repentance reforms ; prayer with a feeling of remorse purifies. We are also better prepared to face the adversities of life by having faith in the justice of God. Lord Krishna has stated in the Bhagavad-Geeta that “some suffering is inevitable in this material world and one must be prepared to tolerate the same” ( 2.14 ).
One who prays with faith is never helpless. Hopeless people suffer from mental breakdowns, and if they pray God will help to find solutions. The Lord states in the Bhagavad-Geeta, “From Me come memory and knowledge” (15.7). Further, “One who is in My consciousness is able to cross all impediments” (18.58 ). The Lord also promises to condone our sins if we genuinely surrender to Him - which is what a true prayer is. And, prayers with faith are assuring.
A question may be raised whether praying is an escape from facing reality ? In the Bhagavad-Geeta, Lord Krishna lays emphasis on being active, that is, to always act in an appropriate manner. And what is this appropriate manner ? “Let the scriptures be your guide” (16.24), says the Lord. The scriptures indicate God-consciousness, that is, seeking His help and guidance which forms the basis of proper actions and genuine prayers. Having done whatever one can possibly do, one is best advised to leave the results in the hands of God. He has this authority in the first place.
How should one pray ? The first requirement is humility. God does not respond to orders which we give Him ; for instance we often ask “do this for me or do that for me”. There should be a mood of surrender, and a strong feeling of repentance for past mistakes, otherwise forgiveness is unlikely to be granted. Let us put ourselves in God’s place . Would we forgive someone who tries to brazen it out ? One should seek forgiveness with a great deal of sincerity in one’s prayers, while requesting for undoing the troubles one is in.
One should also sincerely express gratitude for all the past help given by God. By this, one is sure to please the Almighty and get his attention quickly. Prayers should be reasonable, that is, based on reality and not be outrageous like asking for immorality. One should also be deserving of what one is seeking. One must always remember that God helps those who help themselves. God supplements our efforts and inspires us to act correctly, if we pray properly and sincerely. One needs to come clean with God since He surely knows what is in our heart. Trying to outwit God is unlikely to help. If one follows such guidelines, one can seek all reasonable help and the same are likely to be granted.
Prayers could be said silently or spoken aloud. There is no restriction on when one can pray. Whenever one is worried or in the grip of fear, prayers provide immediate relief. Prayers are the best antidote for anxieties, panic situations and over-speculative tendencies.
Praying is not a sign of weakness. It is very effective way to confront a situation which is beyond our control when no solution appears feasible. It is not just an emotional response but a very smart way to supplement our actions.