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Why Should One Pray ?

Translations by AJ Vekaria

 

Many people are heard to say: "I believe in God and virtuous life, I do my duty I am honest and charitable. But I do not believe in all these rituals organized religions want us to do. And I don't think it is there, he will look after everyone and we do not have to ask him for anything. Prayer is just a sort of flattery. God does not expect us to pray to him. You can't please Him by flattery". This may appear to be a rational and reasonable argument. But it is not quite so. Let us see how we can counter this argument.


Firstly let us find out what we know about the name or form of god. Let us consider only those aspects of God on which there is universal agreement. Briefly stated, God is kind and benevolent, omnipotent and omnipresent. These aspects of God are universally accepted and no religion in the world refuses any of these except you to pray to Him? Will He shower his mercies on you only if you pray to Him? This is the question many people may ask. Will not the God be pleased with you if you are a good man and will he not look after you even if you do not pray to Him?


Yes, IF you are really honest, kind, dutiful, sincere, service-minded, disciplined and have all the virtues and none of the vices definitely God will look after you. But how can you be all that? The world is full of temptations. However virtuous a man may be there if likelihood of committing sins, of succumbing to the temptations and God cannot be expected to tolerate ADHARMA. Is it not then necessary for a man to think of God, for then alone he can save himself from committing sins? If one has to get the thought of God on such occasions, one has to spend sometime in meditating on God and his prayers to God "O, LORD LEAD US NOT TO TEMPTATION" is more directed to himself (a sort of auto suggestion) than to God. For God has given you a free will, This prayer, if regularly done, cannot but give you tremendous will-power to The thought of God can desist you from doing wrong.


Secondly, when do most people pray? Of course, when they are in grief. "God, save me!" is a very common prayer. What purpose does this prayer serve? If you believe in KARMA, you have to face the results of your actions, enjoy or suffer depending on your actions. God, when you cannot escape the results of the past Karma? argument. But what should you do when in great trouble when you have nothing else to look for? If you go to someone and tell him all your troubles, the person may show some sympathy, may offer you some help, but not every time. There are some occasions when no one can help you and your telling someone all about your troubles may give you relief but you are actually hurting the other person by making him listen to all the unpleasant things. So pray to God, "Oh, God, save me !" When you say God is all powerful and merciful, is it not reasonable to except Him to forgive you and save you from the troubles, the results of your past action? Of course, you MUST be sincere and genuinely repent for what you have done and if so, God will forgive you, provided you will not repeat the wrong acts for which you were made to suffer. One may argue that even this is not necessary. God will automatically forgive you and save you even from your troubles which are the results of your KARMA. if you are now good, virtuous etc. But by praying to God at such times, are you not again re-assuring yourself that there is god who alone can and will save you? Will not that give you confidence and courage to boost your morale and enable you to withstand all the miseries? Here again the prayer is more directed to yourself than towards God.


So prayer is no flattery of God. It is very much necessary for us to lead a virtuous life and to withstand all the trials and tribulations in life. But praying to God (in whichever form you figure Him in Your mind and whichever form it pleases you, whichever method you adopt-chanting his name, singing in praise of Him, offering flowers etc., visiting temples and prostrating before the deity- all are equally effective) everyday you develop a habit of remembering God always which could stop you from committing wrongful acts and also give you the courage and confidence to bear all the miseries because you constantly remember that God is there to forgive you and save you.


Like the moon during the lighted fortnight, calamities increases for him who is a slave to his senses. The king who wishes to control his counselors before controlling his own self, or the king who wishes to subdue his adversaries before controlling his counselors, fights a losing battle, losing his strength. A king should first subdue his own self. He will then never fail to subdue his counselors and later his enemies. Great prosperity waits upon him who has subjugated his senses, or controlled his soul, or who is capable of punishing all offenders, or who acts with discernment or who is blessed with patience.