Prayer In Action

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What does that mean? Is prayer an action? How is prayer active? Isn't prayer a meditation? A desire in our heart? A thought, a wish? What does it mean to pray actively?

When we need help, assistance, guidance, strength (or any other thing) we pray about it. We ask Krishna to help us. Sometimes we pray for certain things, like if we want to go to the temple, but for some reason we can't, we might pray to Krishna to make it possible for us to go to the temple. Everyone prays in different ways, and for different things, depending on who they are.

There's a common thread in all of this though, that applies to anyone, no matter what it is you're praying about, and that is the "action" part of the equation.

If there is something that you are praying about, there is always some action you can be taking along with your prayer. Sometimes, we forget that we have our own selves that we need to engage in devotional action to Krishna. That means our mind, senses, thoughts, intelligence, and body. They can all be engaged actively in some way to work toward whatever it is we are praying about.

Here are some examples:

If you are praying for guidance, then look at your spiritual practices. If there are areas that you are weak in, then you know that you are not going to be able to receive the guidance as well. It may be staring you right in the face, sitting in front of you screaming, but you won't see it. So, as you pray for guidance, take action to improve your spiritual practices. Get up earlier to chant, chant more rounds, take more time to read, whatever it is that you can see that could be improved, take action on it immediately. Act on your own prayer, show Krishna you mean it, do everything YOU can do.

If you are praying to be able to go to the temple, because you live far away, what can you do while you pray about it? You can walk outside your house, walk down the road, and come back into the house, as if you had gone to the temple. Well, if you don't live near a temple, then your home IS your temple. Even if all you have is a picture of Krishna, that's your temple. So, go to the temple. Go out the door, walk down the road (or drive) and come back to the temple. (of course you would chant while you are walking) I mean a separate trip from what you would normally make to go to work or somewhere else. This is a way of taking action, showing Krishna that you are sincere. You can also thank Krishna for giving you the temple you do have (your home, with your picture of Him, where you can chant and read). This is something you can do to show Krishna that you are "ready" to live near a temple, by demonstrating that you would go if you were there.

It's stated in scripture that the legs that do not walk to the temple (or holy places) are considered to be made of stone. So, this is a way to "walk to the temple".

If you think you don't have time to do these things, then you can start praying to Krishna to be able to understand how to use your time better. Then, you will have to take action to actually USE your time better. Immediately. What can you do without? Do you really need to see that half hour of news every night? Is it really essential that you have that extra long phone conversation with your friend or family member? Do you really HAVE to search the internet for some information on this or that? We can all find ways to use our time better if we try. So, while you're praying to Krishna that you will be able to use your time better, find some way, even if it's small, to take action toward that effort.

These are just examples. In each of our lives, with whatever it is we are struggling with, there are always things we can do, if we try hard enough to think of them, to take action while we're praying for help.

Praying to Krishna is not a "magic formula" where we don't do anything except "ask" and then wait for our desires to be fulfilled. We have minds and bodies for a reason. As devotees, that reason is to use them, actively, in the service of Krishna. So, we have to engage them. Use them.

That is prayer in action.

"God helps those who help themselves".

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Comments
Thu, 09/11/2008 - 11:37 — nikki....
nikki....'s picture
prayer in action

Hare Krishna, I thank-you from my heart for your guiding words, you have given me things to think about that i could relate to i pray for Krishna,s mercy that i have the intellegence to put into practice some of your suggestions. Haribol!

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 23:26 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Action

You're very welcome Nikki,

I'm so glad this was helpful to you.

It takes a lot of effort and energy to actually put into action the things we are praying about.

A lot of the time, since it's easier to "just ask", we don't actually do as much as we really could be doing.

When we don't do what WE can do, we aren't even allowing Krishna to help us with the things we want help with. Everything requires ACTION.

Krishna consciousness is very action-oriented.

Think of Arjuna on the battlefield. What does Krishna tell him? Sit down and just pray that this battle will be fought in the right way, and pray that the right party will be victorious?

Not at all...

Krishna says: Act. Stand. Fight. Do This. Fight This War. Win This War.

We are the ones who benefit when we take action, we are then engaged actively in devotional service. When we are acting on something we are also praying about, it's going to give us a very direct awareness of our connection with Krishna.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Mon, 09/08/2008 - 06:58 — Kartik Desai
Kartik Desai's picture
Question:Prayer or Business or Bribe?

If some one or a Devotee is Praying to Lord Krishna for Success in his Material path like Money,Studies,Work,Marriage,Health etc.
He is chanting for Material Success.Then.....

Is that a Prayer or Business or bribe?

For Example:I was a Student of Science.I studied Chemistry.
When i was New to KC,i started reading Prabhupada's Books and found that Srila Prabhupada Had a Pharma/pharmaceutical company.So i once Prayed to Srila Prabhupada to make me clear in my Chemistry exam!!!
So,is that a Prayer or Business or bribe?

Bheema Ekadashi

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Mon, 09/08/2008 - 10:46 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Types Of Prayer

That's a very good question you're asking Bheema/Kartik :)

Actually, just like the example you've given of yourself, when you were new to Krishna consciousness, people often do pray to Krishna for material things.

Even people who are not new to Krishna consciousness sometimes pray for material things, either because they want them so much, or they feel that they are somehow important to have for their spiritual life (and they may or may not actually be).

This is not the best kind of prayer, and it's a good idea to keep our prayers only for spiritual things, such as spiritual strength, guidance, advancement.

Most especially, the very best kind of prayer is only to serve.

The maha mantra prayer: "please engage me in Your service".

However, any kind of way of approaching Krishna, is better than not praying to Him at all, and people are only on the level they are on.

It's best not to pray for material things though, of course, and Srila Prabhupad has told us that we should not treat Krishna as our "order supplier".

So the more advancement you make, and the more pure your desires become, the more pure your prayers can be.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Thu, 09/18/2008 - 23:32 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
The Best Prayer

Hare Krishna!
In the reply above you say that praying for material things is not the best prayer. I would like to share my realization in this regard.

I have realized that everything is well planned by Krishna. What is to be given or what is not to be given is decided by Lord. So when we desire something material we get it if Krishna has planned for it but if He has not planned that for us, we will never that thing irrespective of our strong desire to have it. Just like a small kid who wants to have chips that are unhealthy . The child will keep on praying or convincing the mother why he wants those chips. But the mother very well knows that the fruit will benefit her child than the chips. So she will feed him with a fruit and not with chips. The child will either acccept it willing or will cry.Biut in the end will have to eat the fruit which is good for his health. Similarly, irrespective of our prayers we will get only that what He wants to give us materially. So it is best to just accept what He gives us materially knowing that it is good for us.

Even I used to pray for material things, thinking that this is what I need to have for spiritual advancement. But now realize that, He understands all my needs and will give me all that is well planned for me. And so I now feel that, the best prayer would be to pray to help me and bless me with intelligence to utilize whatever I get in the service of Lord.

Haribol!
Snehal

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Fri, 09/19/2008 - 00:08 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Krishna Fulfills Our Desires

Dear Snehal, Hare Krishna! :)

Actually, it's stated in scripture that Krishna does in fact fulfill our desires even if what we are desiring (or praying for) is not good for us.

That's because Krishna is so kind He does give us whatever it is we want. That's why we're here in the material world, because that's what we wanted.

It would be another, more subtle form of "force" (and we talked about how unless love is voluntary, it's not love) to only give us what is good for us spiritually, if we are in fact not desiring what is good for us spiritually.

However, for a devotee, He does it in such a way that we will again be brought back to Him.

For example, if someone is praying for a relationship with a certain man. (this is only an example) Now, if we go on praying for this relationship, Krishna may then give us that relationship. But, once we have that relationship, we will find that there is something very painful involved in it, and then, we will be forced to again seek Krishna.

There are positive ways Krishna does this too, it won't always be in the form of some kind of suffering or punishment. An example (only an example) of that would be a devotee who desires a lot of money, they may pray for money, then Krishna will fulfill that desire, and they will have money. But, right when they get the money, they will see that a large sum is needed for some Krishna conscious project that is very dear to their heart, and thus, they will give the money to that project, instead of using it for material things. Thus, they have been brought back to Krishna.

What you have said, that your realize Krishna knows all your needs, is wonderful. Praying for Krishna's help, and to utilize whatever you have in His service, is an excellent prayer.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:32 — Snehal
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Desires

Hare Krishna!

Yes, I agree that Krishna fullfilled our desire to enjoy by letting us in this material world. I also agree to what you say that Krishna brings his devotees back to Him even after fulfilling his desires. But its my experience till today (which is of course vey less) that Krishna will not fulfill all our desires. Sometimes He fulfills our desires, if they are in accordance with His desires. And sometimes He says no. So over the period of time have I understood that only those desires which are HIs desires too will be fulfilled. Hence it is best to desire to serve Him when whatever state or condition we may be.

For example, someone desires to have lot of money so that he can help some KC project. It will depend on Krishna's desire whether to give that money or not. Its wonderful if this desire is fulfilled but if not this devotee must not stop helping the project by ethier donating whatever he can or by getting involved in the project by doing some other service. This is what I mean by serving in whatever condition or state we may be.

Of course we are living entities and will have desires but I feel its useless to desire for material or spiritual benefits. Everything is planned by Krishna. If we are planned to get that material or spiritual benefit we will get it by His mercy. And even when we dont get that benefit, its again Krishna's mercy. So having desires and their fulfillment is secondary because anyways Krishna showers His mercy on His devotees. Thus we must desire to serve, irrespective of fulfillment of his other desires.

Haribol!
Snehal

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Sat, 09/20/2008 - 00:34 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
His Desires

Dear Snehal,

What do you think Krishna desires?

You say He only fulfills our desires if they are also His desires.

So, what do you think He desires?

Krishna desires nothing but our love and devotion.

However, we don't always desire to love Krishna, or devote ourselves to Him, therefore we desire other things, separate from Krishna's desires.

The ways in which Krishna fulfills those desires, are subtle and incomprehensible to us most of the time.

Sometimes, we can see it, other times we can't. We are looking at very limited examples and trying to understand things in a very limited way. (the examples I gave were those types of very basic, ordinary things, that's the reason I typed "these are just examples")

The desires in our own hearts, we don't usually even understand, what to speak of understanding the ways in which Krishna is fulfilling those desires.

Our desires can be so subtle we are not even aware of them.

We may think we are desiring one thing, and telling Krishna that's what we desire, while in fact, in our hearts, there is some other desire that is stronger.

Also, the time frame in which Krishna fulfills our desires could be lifetimes, actually. Just because we want a fruit and hold out our hand and ask for one, and Krishna doesn't put it there immediately, this does not indicate that Krishna does not fulfill our desires.

He fulfills them according to His plans, His plans for us, to bring us to the point of loving Him totally and completely, in pure devotion. As you were saying, how everything happens according to the plans of Krishna.

Everything is planned by Krishna, that's true. However, within that plan, we still and always have free will, and choice, which involves desire.

It's hard to understand how everything is already planned by Krishna, yet we still have free will and choice.

Krishna already knows in advance what it is that we will desire. Still, we are desiring and choosing, always, and Krishna is reciprocating with those desires and choices.

It's important to remember that we don't always know what it is we are desiring. It's not always so clear cut, and often it is something different from what we think we are desiring. Or we have more than one desire, and they can conflict with one another.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Sat, 09/20/2008 - 02:14 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
Thank You

Haribol!
Thank you very much for this wonderful reply. Things are clear now.

Snehal

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Wed, 09/10/2008 - 03:05 — K A V Y A . R A...
K A V Y A . R A J A N's picture
Prayers

" A Prayer is the key to the morning and lock for the night! " - MAHATMA GANDHI

To be able to pray - sincerely, with full concentration, devotion(or love), and presence(not only your body, but also mind) is really a God's gift. Only if He wills, everything can happen. As my grandma once told me - " Without Shree Hari's will, even a leaf of the tree can't move! " Yes, its true, and I am telling this from my own personal experience.

I really miss those times... When I was at school, we students used to pray early in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. Small prayers were they - in the afternoon and evening, but still so nice. We had teachers to guide us and tell us what is good, what is bad, and why bad is always not at all favored by God. Thus with all my teacher's help, I was so peaceful in both my body and mind.

Mind you, I studied in a christian school, and yet, I found my darling Lord Krishna so close to me always... I never chanted - I didn't even know about it. Just a small prayer to our Eternal Father three times a day, made me so peaceful. All my life at school, I worked full heartedly, and it was really very nice. As Lord Krishna says - "Do your work and leave the rest to me!", thats enough for Him actually! He doesn't want us to do anything else. Simple prayers from heart(devotion) and performing your duty without harming others, yes, that will do!

When I left my school, I really(literally) forgot everything! My God, there was so much a change in me! If I worked, it was only result oriented! And the consequence - no peace of mind - no success. With no one to guide me, I really got stranded in life. Sometimes, I really felt that doing or thinking wrong things is not wrong actually! Its almost like what Lord Krishna said - " The Demonic will say that the evil is good and good is evil, they will not be able to differentiate between the good and the bad! Their minds are completely illusioned! " How true.

All this happened because I had no one to guide me. Now I realize, how nice it will be if I had someone to encourage me! But still, its my fault, and I accept it. Although I can't promise that I'll be the same as before, I really want my darling Lord Krishna back! He seems to be so far away sometimes, and yet, I can't help from feeling that He actually(ya true, its a fact actually) still loves me even though I have done so many mistakes or sins. I want to be happy once again and cheer for Him only!

Imagine, how nice it will be to be wrapped up in His arms! Imagine, how nice it will be to stroll around freely in a world(His world) that is not filled with sorrows or bad men! How nice it will be to be so close to Him always and cheer for Him only and Praise Him! It will all happen - only if He wills. And I hope it will be done soon... by going really near Him without any hesitation.

So ok, I wanted to start from somewhere again - last week only I decided to go Ma Durga temple thats so close to my house - its located right opposite to my flats where I live, and simply try to pray or read some slokas. But I didn't do it.... Why? I asked myself later, before going to bed ....so lazy, and more ever I had to do this work, and that work and this and that and this and that...... mere Excuses only!

Its a lot better actually, after joining this website dedicated to Him. Satsang, does work wonders and I am slowly improving by just reading all of your feelings about Him. And I feel loads better already and very much satisfied too. Thank you all!

I hope Lord Krishna will help me wake up again from this unreal dream.

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Thu, 09/11/2008 - 02:50 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Waking Up

That's quite an interesting story Kavya.

That's good you want to wake up from dreaming now.

Actually chanting the maha mantra is a wake up call for the soul.

It wakes the soul up from it's unreal dreaming.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

"Cheer for Him and Praise Him"! (as you said)

That's very nice!

Ki Jai!

Navasi