Make your prayer a demand of the soul
“A prayer that is strong and deep will definitely receive God’s answer....By the application of science in religion, your uncertain belief in spiritual possibilities can become realization of their highest fulfillment.”
God is the love that upholds the universe — the ocean of life and power that pervades all creation. Through scientific methods of prayer, we can attune ourselves to that Infinite Power, and bring healing to body, mind, and spirit.
Some people regard prayer as a vague and ineffective exercise in wishful thinking. The ordinary person resorts to prayer only when in dire trouble and when all other options have failed. But Paramahansa Yogananda taught that true prayer is scientific — being based on precise laws that govern all creation — and is a daily necessity for harmonious living.
He explained that our physical bodies and the material world we live in are condensations of invisible patterns of energy. That energy in turn is an expression of finer blueprints of thought — the subtlest vibration — which governs all manifestations of energy and matter. The whole of creation was brought into being by God first in thought or idea form. Then the Divine Consciousness willed those thought patterns to condense into light and energy, and finally into the grosser vibrations of matter.
As human beings, made in the image of God, we are different from the lower forms of creation: we have the freedom to use these same powers of thought and energy. By the thoughts we habitually entertain and act upon, we create the circumstances in which our life unfolds.
Scientific prayer is based on understanding of this truth, and on application of the universal forces of creation: It tunes in with God’s thought patterns of health, harmony, and perfection — and then uses will power to channel energy to help materialize those patterns.
Prayer is the science by which we can attune the human mind and will to the consciousness and will of God. Through prayer, we form a loving, personal relationship with God, and His response is unfailing. We read in Paramahansa Yogananda’s autobiography:
“The Lord responds to all and works for all. Seldom do men realize how often God heeds their prayers. He is not partial to a few, but listens to anyone who approaches Him trustfully. His children should ever have implicit faith in the loving-kindness of their Omnipresent Father.”
By patient and persevering application of God’s unlimited power, we can, with His love and help, create whatever circumstances we desire, and dissolve difficulties and disease — not only for ourselves, but for others.
Make Your Prayer a Demand of the Soul
“Prayer is a demand of the soul. God did not make us beggars; He created us in His image.…A beggar who goes to a rich home and asks for alms receives a beggar’s share; but the son can have anything he asks from his wealthy father....Therefore we should not behave like beggars. Divine ones such as Christ, Krishna and Buddha did not lie when they said we are made in the image of God.”
The ancient scientist sages of India discovered how to experience an overwhelming communion of joy with a loving God. Paramahansa Yogananda teaches us how we can have this same direct experience of the Divine:
“I prefer the word ‘demand’ to ‘prayer,’ because the former is devoid of the primitive and medieval conception of a kingly tyrant God whom we, as beggars, have to supplicate and flatter. There is a great deal of beggary and ignorance in ordinary prayer...Few know how to pray and touch God with their prayers.”
“You have a divine right inherited from God to demand from Him; and He will respond to you because you are His own. If you constantly call to Him, He cannot escape the net of your devotion. If you pray until the ether churns with the light of your prayer, then you will find God.”
Making Prayer Effective
Key Points to Remember for Effective Prayer
Successful prayer depends to a great extent on the ability to concentrate — the ability to free the mind from distractions and to place it one-pointedly on whatever we wish. Just as the scattered rays of the sun may be converged through use of a magnifying glass to create intense burning power, so the subtle yet powerful energy latent in thoughts, feelings, and spoken words may be gathered into all powerful prayer through a definite method of concentration. Vast reservoirs of mental power may be tapped through concentration — power that can be used in any outward endeavor, or inwardly to gain experience of our immutable kinship with God.
Importance of Meditation for Effective Prayer
Meditation is concentration used to know God. Paramahansa Yogananda taught that before praying it is good to meditate, to gain awareness that we are made “in the image of God.” Concentration and meditation techniques such as those taught in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons interiorize the mind, revealing the divine Spirit within. Concentration on that inner holy Presence leads to direct perception of our true Self, or soul, ever one with God.
“God does not wish us to pray like beggars,” Paramahansaji said, “wheedling Him to give us what we want. Like any other loving father, He delights in fulfilling our worthy wishes. Therefore, first establish your identity with Him through meditation. Then you may ask what you need of your Father with a child’s loving expectation, knowing that your request will be granted.”
The Power of Will
“Continuous, calm, powerful use of the will shakes the forces of creation and brings a response from the Infinite,” Paramahansaji said. “When you persist, refusing to accept failure, the object of will must materialize. When you continuously work that will through your thoughts and activities, what you are wishing for has to come about. Even though there is nothing in the world to conform to your wish, when your will persists, the desired result will somehow manifest. In that kind of will lies God’s answer; because will comes from God, and continuous will is divine will.”
In prayer it is necessary to distinguish between a passive attitude that God will do everything, and the other extreme of relying only on our own efforts. “A balance should be struck between the medieval idea of wholly depending on God and the modern way of sole reliance on the ego,” Paramahansa Yogananda explained.
When Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done,” before undergoing the trial of crucifixion, he was not denying his own will. It took complete mastery of will to surrender to God’s divine plan for his life. Few people have developed their will power to that extent. But God expects us as His children to exercise His gifts of reason, will, and feeling to the best of our ability in every endeavor. While utilizing all means at our disposal to achieve success, we should simultaneously seek guidance from the Divine Presence within. This balanced attitude leads to poise, understanding, harmonization of our human and divine faculties, and attunement of our human will with the will of God.
Devotion, Love for God Devotion, Love for God
Prayer imbued with devotion is the most effective prayer. Devotion, love for God, is the magnetic attraction of the heart that God cannot resist. Paramahansa Yogananda said: “The Searcher of Hearts wants only your sincere love. He is like a little child: someone may offer Him his whole wealth and He doesn’t want it; and another cries to Him, ‘O Lord, I love You!’ and into that devotee’s heart He comes running.”
Knowing all things before we ask, God is more interested in our love than in long-winded prayers. John Bunyan said, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” Mechanical prayer, devoid of attention and feeling, is like absentmindedly offering wilted flowers to the Lord — an offering not likely to get much response! But if we call again and again to God, with devotion, concentration, and will power, we will come to know beyond doubt that our prayers are heard and answered by that Divine One whose power and loving concern for us is absolute and unlimited.