Many prayers to God are current among the lovers of God, arising as they do from diverse cultural contexts. Some of the prayers invariably contain an element of asking something from God, either material or spiritual. In fact, God is so merciful and bountiful that even without their asking He always gives much more than His lovers can receive. He knows their real needs more deeply than they do. Therefore the element of asking something from God is superfluous. It often mars the inner love and worship which a prayer tries to express.
The ideal prayer to the Lord is nothing more than spontaneous praise of His being. You praise Him, not in the spirit of bargain but in the spirit of self-forgetful appreciation of what He really is. You praise Him because He is praiseworthy. Your praise is a spontaneous appreciative response to His true being, as infinite light, infinite power and infinite bliss. It is futile to attempt a standard prayer and hold it up as an ideal for all people of all times. The glory of the Almighty transcends all human understanding and defies all verbal descriptions. Eternally fresh and self-renewing in its unlimited amplitude, it never fades. Nor is it ever confined within the limits of the best of hymns.
All hymns and prayers reach out towards the eternal Truth of Godhead only to merge those who utter them in silent and unending adoration. If by ideal prayer to the Lord is meant a set formula, any search for it is a wild goose chase. All prayers ultimately initiate the soul into an ever deepening silence of sweet adoration; and all formulae are dissolved and assimilated into the integral and direct appreciative perception of divine Truth. That which seeks to reach towards the immeasurable, itself becomes incapable of being measured by any set standards.
The ritualistic and repetitive expressions of prayer do not and cannot do justice to the innermost essence of prayer, which is adoring love for the eternal Beloved. To attempt to standardize prayer is to mar its intrinsic beauty.
If you pray with a motive to do good to someone, your prayer may actually bring about good both to him and to yourself. Some people pray for the the spiritual benefit of those who have done them some wrong. There also, they are helping others spiritually. But all prayers with a motive fall short of the ideal prayer which is without motive. In the entire spiritual panorama of the universe nothing is more sublime than a spontaneous prayer. It gushes out of the human heart, filled with appreciative joy. It is self expression of the freed spirit without any actuation of a motive. In its highest form, prayer leaves no room for the illusory diarchy of the lover and the Beloved. It is a return to one's own being.'' (Beams from Meher Baba-p-74-76)s
Everywhere in the world, in the name of prayer and worship, this sort of useless babbling is going on. Nothing is gained by it; it has no substance. Those who practice it derive nothing from it. Do they for a minute think that loud noises can bring results? For years on end, it has been happening, and it will go on for years to come. For ages, the Brahmins, the Maulvis, the Dasturs and the priests have been muttering hired prayers, and they are actually paid for such drivel! But not the slightest advantage has been gained by anyone as a result.
The reason is that none of them does it sincerely or wholeheartedly. Their prayers are nothing more than the vocal cord’s useless prattle with no heart or feeling in it. Their minds’ intellect, attention and thoughts wander here and there, and this idle�mumbo jumbo�goes on. If it is done with a clear mind and with all sincerity, one’s prayers reach straight to God. God wants honesty and an open heart � not an outward show of meaningless chatter.
From any corner of the world, heartfelt remembrance of God, even by the worst sinner or the most worthless and lowest person, immediately reaches God’s ears. I am deaf to the sound of that Brahmin priest’s chanting, though it is so near. I cannot hear it because it does not touch me. It has no effect upon me. Any type of loud, insincere prayer from any quarter leaves us Masters unmoved because it is only noise and carries no heart. Such dry flat prayers, however loud or lengthy, or done over a long period of years, have no effect on us Masters. Instead, if anyone prays to God, to me, purely and honestly, from however far away and however slowly or softly, I, as God, immediately hear it and a connection is established.
For example, take a long distance telephone station. Other telephones are connected to it and the desired connection is given immediately upon dialing. In the same way, the Qutub is humanity’s central main station; and if one remembers him sincerely and wholeheartedly, from however long a distance, one’s cry is heard and the connection is made. There is no question of distance here. The Qutub is the center, the focal point equidistant from one and all in creation. And he, as this center, serves the purpose not only for this world or universe, but for the three worlds and their various levels and planes.
But how is it possible that all prayers are heard at one and the same time? How is it that the prayers and calls of�millions of persons bring immediate connection with the Qutub? The answer is simple. What is a�Qutub? The ruler of infinite and unlimited powers! To him there is no question of one or twenty-one, a thousand, or a hundred thousand, or millions and billions. Everyone is equal in his eyes. But your call should be from the innermost depths of your heart. It will then reach his ears irrespective of distance or�traffic�on the line.
All prayers and sounds are a mere show if they do not originate from the heart. If not, then such prayers, however loud and however long, are quite meaningless. But compared to this, offering hired prayers through Brahmins, Dasturs, Maulvis and priests is much worse. It is nothing short of sheer hypocrisy.
Someone questioned Baba, “If it is done with a feeling of devotion, is it bad for a person who has no time to pray himself to have it done through a medium?”
In reply, Meher Baba stated:
This is total foolishness and completely absurd. It is an excuse and a useless pretext. It does not hold water. It is an insult to one’s common sense. Can prayer, worship or entreaties to God ever be hired? It is beyond one’s imagination. While still being lured by Maya, it is like throwing the burden of one’s actions on the shoulders of others and paying them money to take him to God. It is a pretense for keeping oneself immersed in�Mayavic�pleasures.
A person says, “I have no time to pray.” Why not? Because one is unwilling to spare time for it. It is a meaningless excuse to cover up one’s preoccupation with the world and lack of time due to one’s desire to remain involved in Mayavic pursuits. The mind is entrapped in Maya and does not want to be freed; and so to achieve merit, a person offers hired prayers. Can this ever result in any meritorious action or virtue?
If you want to remember or offer worship to God, do it honestly and loyally with all your heart and mind. Even if you can only remember or pray to Him a few minutes each day, do it sincerely. Compared to babbling for hours on end, a sincere prayer of two minutes has more effect. It immediately reaches God’s ears. The reason is that God always listens to the voice of the heart.
Lord Meher, American Edition, Bhau�Kalchuri, Vol. 4, pp. 1173 -1175.