Billions of people on earth pay homage to one Supreme Being or the other. This devotion to the unseen is manifested both at individual and collective levels. Think about the temples, churches, shrines and different manifestations of religion that you see in your locality and you will understand how serious of an issue religion and belief are…
One of the main tenets of religion is that there is a god or God who hears prayers. In other words, adherents of different religions believe they can create a personal connection with God, present their supplications and expects results. Come to think of it, if there were no God who answered our prayers, how many people would still be religious?
Coming To Grips With Prayers…
But it is important to ask, “Does God answer prayers?” If you answered yes, does he or she exercise selective answering to prayers depending on the person? Sometimes one cannot avoid perceiving God as the benefactor behind a phone line which worshippers use to make requests. He picks some calls but ignores others. He grants some requests but declines others.
What Actually Happens When You Pray?
You retreat to some quiet and solitary place and send a prayer to God. Then you enumerate your needs to God and hope he will consider your request. But how many of these prayers are answered? Perhaps only 10% of those who pray receive the things they asked for. In essence, either God does not listen to some people or, you, the believer has some problem.
Let’s face it; you know that your prayers are not always being answered. But I know that even the most irreligious of us still find themselves disadvantaged and offering a prayer to some Supreme Being somewhere. Why does this happen?
The Philosophy Behind Praying
Depending on the religious beliefs you subscribe to you have a certain image in mind of how God looks like. Is he a loving parent siting behind a throne and lovingly dolling out gifts to those who pray to him? What exactly is your image of God? Are you aware that the beliefs in your community and your experiences are the ones that shape your image of God? If God’s omnipresence is to be believed then you don’t need a line to talk to God because he is there with you all the time. In his greatness he should have all that you need to live a better life.
The truth is that there is no single universal definition of God. Neither do people have to believe the same way and practice the same doctrine because God is invisible. Nobody has seen him to be able to give an exact image of him. But people believe that God exists and he hears their prayers. Moreover, whether the prayers are heard and answered depends on you and your experiences.
Motives And Desires
Let us take a look at Indian tradition and spirituality. It explores the origin of desires since prayers are fundamentally voiced desires. But it is not a simple desire like you wanting to eat chocolate. Prayer is not like reaching out for a bottle of wine. This is a situation in which whatever you desire is not within your reach. The reason people ask God for assistance is because they cannot achieve it through their own human power.
At this point the wise of men of India came up with a different notion. They suggested that your common desires may not after all be different from the prayers you offer to God. Now do you still believe in the idea of a direct line to the Supreme Being? They went further and suggested that the link between ordinary desire and prayer is the fact that you are conscious when you make them.
Consequently, you can only understand prayer on the context of consciousness. This is how it works. When you desire to eat a chocolate bar your mind and reality are interconnected because you want intention to become reality. But what happens when you pray that there will be no earthquake in your area and it happens?
Vedic Rishi’s Explanation
All this can be explained through the three elements that characterise all intentions and thought: the depth of the source of the intention in the mind (Samadhi), the steadiness of the focus (Dharana) and the fluidity of your intention (Dhyana). The amalgamation of the three aspects results in Samyama, a complete mechanism. Whether your intention is successful or not depends on how effectively you use your awareness and not the prayer you send to a god who is likely not listening to you.
Samyama implies bonding the three elements, and your intentions are most potent when there is unity. It implies that you are conscious, following increased awareness, and can influence the world that surrounds you. Samyama implies that your intention is unified and the mind is focused although it is still malleable.
Answered VS. Unanswered Prayers
From the above explanation, it is obvious that when your prayers are not answered, your mind must have been shallow, restless, out of focus and in conflict. You and I often suffer from such conditions of the mind. When your prayers are answered, it implies that you have holistic clarity and this is achieved momentarily. At such moments intentions meets reality in uninhibited conditions.
Samyama may be presented in yoga is a lofty achievement, but we can conclude with certainty that in the context of daily consciousness, the same law is at work. Life itself is the process of realising your intentions.
Appreciating and practicing and this mechanism means that you can use meditation or other strategies to ensure the three aspects are working in tandem. You may not achieve the same outcome with each strategy but you will have a better experience with prayers and connection with God. For example, if you believe and pray with focused mind and the intention from your soul (mind and soul have to be in the same agreement), a prayer will be answered or you can get strength to live another day, because you have hope.
Points To Bare In Mind:
1.The concepts of a hearing God are as personal as is the belief in God itself. What works for you may not work for the other person.
2.Your ideas about God and prayer are not wrong even when they differ with those of other people you know.
3. Almost everybody believes in a Supreme Being that answers prayers. The approach may differ but the feeling that there is a powerful being out there is mutual.
4. When exploring the concept of a hearing God, you cannot escape the question of apparent selective answering of prayers.
5. Your experience with prayer will prove that not all prayers are answered thus leaving you with more questions than answers as to what exactly happens when you pray.
6. One way to think about prayer is to see it as the expression of a desire in which case answered prayers means that the intention has met with reality.
7. However, prayer is a more powerful intention that mundane ones because the former can only be fulfilled through divine help while you can easily meet the latter.
8. In Indian spiritual teachings all intentions are the same (including prayer) because all of them are moderated by consciousness.
9. All intentions have three elements that are summed up in the word Samyama, which implies there is a unity of purpose in your intention.
10. Prayers are answered when Samyama is clear in your prayers and this happens in exceptional moments, whether or not a Supreme Being is involved.
Your Grace Guru