Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Real and Successful Prayer

The ecstatic prayer of a mystic is no way superior to the agonized stumbling of a sinner weighed down with guilt and deformed by a lifetime of estrangement from God.
Both attempts represent the upward striving of created nature to find rest in God; both are real, both are "successful."
………… Michael Casey

What a beautiful saying! First of all what is success? Normal definition is the capacity to achieve what one wants. It is not a final aim that is determined from outside of one self. It is an internal desire of achievement. Hence to evaluate prayer as being successful is to evaluate the intention which is generated from within. All intentions are derived from ones mind and hence from ones conscious action through thought. Or stated in another way the origination is human consciousness. This is the reason Casey says that the only perfect prayer is the realization that the very state of our being is a perfect outcome of God’s action which represents our total surrender to God.

Jonathan Edwards, a great American preacher and theologian, says “The true spirit of prayer is no other than God's own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer.” This is the point that Casey makes when he compares the prayer of a mystic and that of a sinner. Both are lead by the spirit to move towards the same Godhead.

Prayer must then be seen as tuning into the very ‘will of the Father’. As true sons it is only through unflinching faith and an understanding that our being, in whatever condition in a temporal and terrestrial dimension we may be, is the divine intent. True success of prayer is the aspiration to be in tune with the divine will. This is the reason that the great mystic
Julian of Norwich says “This is our Lord's will... that our prayer and our trust be, alike, large.”

The Indian Tantric mystic
Osho says “Remember, if you pray to ask for something, it is not prayer. When you pray to thank him for something, only then it is prayer. Prayer is always a thanksgiving. If you ask for something then the prayer is still corrupted by desire. Then it is not prayer yet — it is still poisoned by dreaming. Real prayer happens only when you have attained to yourself, when you have known what God has given to you already without your asking for it. When you realise what you have been given, what infinite sources have been given to you, a prayer arises you would like to say to God, ‘Thank you.’ There is nothing else in it but a pure thank you.” Though this is a very strong statement, it captures the essence of real prayer.

I have earlier done a post on the emptiness of words in our prayer (see ‘
Prayer of Silence’). Through inwardly focused contemplation, let us aim to listen to the voice of the divine. This voice is the muted vibration that produces a state of perennial gratitude in our being.

Love to you all


  1. Dear Uncle,
    Nice article about true prayer.
    I do follow it and will in future.


  2. Say 'Thank you'to God for what He has given you without asking-What insightful words!I only long to reach the stage where tears would fill my eyes as I gratefully realise the infinite resources bestowed upon me.I do realise it is not easy to sink the'you' in yourself and begin assuming the via-media role of your maker.And that indeed would the purest form of prayer.

  3. Interesting that you mention Lutheran religion as my son was married in such a church in Germany on 9 January.
    Not that I belong to any religion. I am a Deist but have no faith in any religion of man, although there are many good people within these societies. Of course I believe in the existence of Jesus, Muhammud etc, these were people closer to God than all but a tiny minority. But did either write anyhing? No. We are left with corruptions that are misinterpreted to suit a man's particular purpose.
    To reach God means throwing off the shackles of the programming of your early years. Challenging every belief that you think is yours but may have been instilled by parents, teachers or others. When you do this you will find your true self. God will not accept you as an imposter. When you pray, do not praise him, God is not vain. Do not thank him, he already has felt your heart. Do not ask for help, he already knows. Just open your heart. Let God in.