How to pray?
Sri Ramakrishna used to say, "Pray with sincerity and he is bound to listen. He can even hear the cries of an ant." Prayer is very important. It works. I have known Monks who are very careful about what they pray for because prayers are answered, and they do not want to fall a prey to the world!
Prayers have a tremendous effect on us as they reduce our anxiety levels and make us connect to our inner self. Today many of us feel prayers are outdated and look for motivational books that teach us how to connect to our subconscious mind. Is not prayer the same thing? It is better because when you try to connect to your mind and have some out of the world experience you become egoistic, but with sincere prayers you begin to erase your ego.
The intelligent consciousness that rules us is taking an angry form - called Rudra Rupa. Only prayers can calm it down. When Lord Narasimha appeared to save Bhakt Prahlad from harm it was a terribly ferocious form. Devotees prayed to him and calmed him down. Similarly when Mother Kali was out to destroy creation, Lord Shiva lay prostrate on her path and she calmed down when she stepped on him.
Our actions and mentality decide what is in store for us. Is that not the same thing the motivational speakers say? In prayer you think of God as your father and mother. You develop a relationship with him that is very rewarding. He bestows his gifts as love towards his children. That is more fulfilling than any materialistic approach.
Lord Shiva is Bholenath - the innocent God who is very easily pleased. Currently the asuric or demonic forces are praying to him to get what they want. Don't you see the dancing Nataraj form of Shiva in the compound of the CERN laboratory? So if the satanists are praying to him should we not, his real children, pray to him?
If you can go to a Shiva Temple do go and pour a little water on his head. It is our duty to do so. Do you know why we pour water? It is Lord Shiva who swallowed the intense poison 'halahal' that emerged from the churning of the ocean - the poison that would have destroyed the world. As a result he always suffers intense burning sensation. The devotees respond by constantly pouring water and milk on him. He is bearing the pain of the world and it is our duty to alleviate the pain.
Mahasambhuti Chakradhar used to tell us, You cannot imagine the intensity of the pain that I constantly bear within myself. The energy he carried within him made him shortlived. He was in his mothers womb for 12 long years to get a suitable body that could bear that energy - the energy of the Chakra.
When people used to harangue Ramana Maharshi to relieve the pain in their lives, he used to wryly reply, Who bears that pain? So do what little you can to relieve that pain. If you do not like rituals then remember the gracious form of the Lord and repeat the Mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" constantly in your mind. Now is the time to drop your ego and embrace God.
Your prayers should not be selfish. Pray for the welfare of the world and its inhabitants. If you visit forests bow down and beg forgiveness for all the atrocities we have heaped on nature. I do this whenever I am in the comfort of natural habitats. I don't do it consciously, it automatically happens.
When you visit the ocean bow down and beg her forgiveness. Beg forgiveness from the earth we stand upon, the air we breath, the fire that sustains us. The elements are angry. It is our duty to soothe them. Let our prayers be unselfish and for the good of the world. What will happen to our physical frame we do not know. This is not the time to pray for survival. This is the time to pray that God's wish be fulfilled.
Chakradhar has specifically told me that all should prepare for what is coming. Let us not harbor the illusion that things will go on as usual. A great change is coming and let us face it bravely. This attitude will please the Lord and lighten his burden.
Chakradhar used to be troubled whenever he perchance talked about the destruction. Why should innocent people suffer for the sins of a few, was his constant refrain. His anger, his rage will be reflected on those asuric powers who have exploited and ruined our world. They will see my Rudra Rupa and tremble before me, he used to say. They will not be able to bear it.
But devotees should not be afraid. After all he is our father and mother. Do not be afraid, was one of his last advice to us, for even that form is me. "Remember me when the days become dark and all hopes fade, remember me when destruction stares you at the face, remember me when the intense churning begins, remember me when everything is lost, for it is me who is standing before you." Such tremendous words!
Let us all prepare ourselves, do our work with sincerity and devotion, take care of the soldiers who fight, and always have a prayer in our lips. The night is dark but is the harbinger of a new dawn. Now is the time to rejoice and embrace the change.