Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Venkatesa Daily Readings Vol 2 - Prayer

June 23, 2022


     Prayer is not only a religious exercise. Prayer is resorted to by people all over the world, in all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons, with all sorts of motivations. Prayer in that sense covers requests, pleading, begging and such other means of one person gaining something from another person. "I pray, will you tell me this?" "Pray do this for me." We use such expression very often in life.

     When comes to prayer as a religious exercise, one has to understand the three vital elements involved in it:

           Who is it that prays?
           To whom is the prayer addressed?
           What is the prayer itself - or what are its motivations and goals?

For if once again, even in the religious field, we use prayer as a means of fulfilling our selfish or self-centered ends, then the prayer becomes an extension of the numerous selfish activities that characterize our lives and that inevitably bring us greater and greater sorrow and restlessness.

       I  go to a powerful person, I pray to him that he may employ me, hire me, and from there on I become his slave. I go to a prosperous person, wealthy person, pray for a gift; then I am indebted to him for the rest of my life and therefore, once again I become a slave. And these are terribly unpleasant forms of prayer because they generate in me, immediately, a sense of dependence, a slave mentality, fear and therefore hate.

      If prayer in religion also implies our prayers for the fulfillment of our selfish ends being addressed to God or gods, we are merely extending our slavishness to the sphere or the realm of the invisible and therefore the dependence, the fear and the hate will continue. Perhaps prayer in the religious sense has a very different connotation. In order to understand the religious importance of prayer, it is essential that we should become aware of the nature of the three elements in prayer:

        Who it is that prays?
        To whom the prayer is addressed?
        What the motivation is and, therefore, what the prayer is.

One who endeavors to find an answer to these three questions enters into the state of prayer which is deep meditation.

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