Praying is the most common act for all religious people regardless of religion. However, many people seem to be praying just because it is the tradition, without understanding the essence of praying. I have met many people in my society, who complain about god. They say that god didn’t listen to their prayer. Some of them even become atheists later. So why are all these things happening?
Clearly, this is is the result of ignorance. There are two things to understand about prayer.
First thing to understand is the type of prayers. In Bhagvad Gita, it is clearly written that prayer can be of three types: sattvik, rajasik, and tamasik. Sattvic prayer is done with full devotion to the god, without any expectations. Rajasic prayer is such prayer in which there is some expectation. And tamasic prayer is the one which is done without any reverence or with intention to harm someone else.
Most of the time, people pray with some expectations, i.e., it is the rajasic prayer. They pray because they want something. For example, in the hindu society, people pray to goddess Laxmi and ask for wealth and prosperity. This is rajasic prayer.
Obviously, sattvik prayer is the highest form of prayer. This is the prayer done without any expectations. What it really means is that you should be empty when you pray. You should just be with yourself. You should not imagine anything about god. You should not ask anything with god. You should just be aware of the present moment and be with yourself. You should only listen to the silence. You should just feel thankful to yourself and immerse in the bliss of your ‘self’. That is all you need to do.
Second thing to understand is about the process of praying. Prayer can’t be done without being emotional. In fact, prayer is the act of using one’s emotional power to invoke the divinity within. We can use our emotion to reach the core of our being, the heart. What happens is when we invoke sufficient emotion, our chattering mind gets stopped for some time and we come in touch with our true ‘self’. This is the thing that people don’t understand. And they pray to the stone or some external object believing that the god is in the stone (‘murti’). If the object of prayer does not invoke any emotion within you or it doesn’t bring any transformation within you, that object is of no use. In fact, simply bringing hands together (Namaskar) is enough for praying; you don’t need any external object.