The Three Types of Prayer
THERE are three ways of offering a prayer:
(i) Vocal or oral: that is to say a prayer offered by means of tongue or words of mouth. It consists in repeating some set prayer as recorded in scriptures or as given by this or that Mahatma as a "model prayer." Some feel that such prayers are not of much consequence. A prayer in fact is not a mere repetition of particular words but an anguished cry of an individual soul arising from its deepest depths. Such oral prayers may be likened to borrowed clothes which never fit the borrower. As models these are very valuable and we should try to make such impassioned appeals directly from the innermost recesses of our mind, truly depicting our feelings and emotions.
(ii) Mental: A prayer may be repeated by the tongue of thought alone. This can be done only when one can prepare a suitable ground for it within himself. One must see the presence of God and be able to concentrate his thoughts before offering a thanksgiving to Him, making free and frank confessions of all his shortcomings and seeking His aid in all his endeavors. It is an art and like any other art requires a great deal of patience and steadfastness, as is necessary in learning music or painting. To start with, the mind has to be trained and stilled by constant thought of the Master, which works like a goad (the steel rod used by Mahouts or elephant drivers for keeping the animal under control). After offering such a prayer one must for some time wait fo: His grace or blessedness, which "descends like a gentle dove," says Christ. With it also comes peace that thrills one throughout from head to foot. Once a person tastes of this he feels a perfect satiation within himself. The infatuation of the world with its wondrous charms fall off like a discarded and a long-forgotten thing in the limbo of the past. In the world, he is now no longer of the world. What a wondrous change indeed! Some people consider this as the be-all and end-all of spirituality. But this is not the case. This change in outlook is but a precursor or a harbinger of the advent of the luminous form of the Master and much more thereafter.
(iii) Spiritual: For true spirituality,
a Sadhak has yet to wait and watch. As he continues his Sadhna,
he occasionally transcends his physical body and meets the Master in his
self-refulgent form. Thence onward countless vistas of spiritual scenes
unfold themselves before his inner vision. These are beyond description.
While yet a denizen of this world, he gets an access to higher regions,
from whence come nothing but blessedness. Here he gets dyed through and
through in the true color of pure spirituality. Now he is no more "worldly-wise"
as he used to be, but is charged with spirituality. He is altogether transformed
into a person established in his Divinity or God-head. This may be termed
prayer. In this type of prayer an aspirant has nothing to do. It is
all wrought by the Master. Once he takes charge of the soul, it becomes
his responsibility to work out this transformation by gradually eliminating
all traces of dross and converting the soul into pure gold. Even
a most elementary experience of this stage sets at
rest all doubts and misgivings. It is enough to awaken a soul into Cosmic Awareness, and from then onward it is established in its own and is no longer a prey to scepticism. In its naked pristine glory it cries out--"I am the soul" or "I am as Thou art" or "I am Brahm."