She sat in the dark corner of the chapel every morning in bitter cold praying for money matters to get better at home; he fervently prayed for his alcoholic father to turn over a new leaf and stop beating his mother and abusing his sisters; she prayed to find a life partner whom she can trust, love and respect; he prayed for the right job that would help him realise his potential.
Our journey on this earth is temporary. In this brief sojourn, we aspire to fulfil our dreams, achieve our goals and live a life free of woes. But this is easier said than done. Of course, life is not easy–it is a bumpy road. The Buddha summed up this bitter truth by saying: “Life is suffering.” Unfortunately, each of us can vouch for this.
Our lives are not devoid of misery and pain, though we all wish for such a life. During testing times, when everything seems hopeless, many of us turn to prayer, the ubiquitous solution to our woes.
An integral part of faith, prayer is an intention or a resolution. Precari, the Latin word for prayer, means ‘to ask earnestly or beg or entreat’. For a common man, prayer is a communication with god, or the divine, or an object of worship. It is a belief amongst most faiths that prayers are communicated either to a ‘source’ that is present ‘within’ an individual or ‘outside’ of an individual.
A prayer can take different forms. Some offer prayers by chanting the name of a deity, some say their intentions out loud, and others chant mantras. For instance, in Hinduism, it is a common practice to chant the universal sound Om. Practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism chant Nam-myho-renge-kyo and recite parts of Lotus Sutra as part of their daily practice.
Praying isn’t just about a higher power coming to our aid, but also about how the very act of praying can positively shift our thinking.