What to Pray for?

What should we pray for?

People pray for many different things. Pray can be a form of desire. We pray for material comforts or release from physical pain. However prayer can be more than just praying for the satisfaction of our material needs. The highest prayer is merely to become one with the highest spiritual realisation.

There is a story of two great Spiritual figures, Sri Ramakrishna and his beloved disciple Swami Vivekananda. Due to the death of his father Swami Vivekananda?s family were living in extreme poverty; his mother started to criticise Vivekananda, saying why did he spend his time praying to God when God could not even provide for the family?s basic needs. Vivekananda felt cut to the bone, so he went to his Spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna and explained his family?s dire financial predicaments. Sri Ramakrishna compassionately replied to Vivekananda and said if he went to the Temple of Mother Kali and prayed for the boon of financial wealth all his family?s financial problems would be solved.

Encouraged by his master?s promise Vivekananda went to the temple of Mother Kali to pray for money. However Vivekananda was a seeker of the highest order. His inner nature yearned for God. When he entered the temple of the Mother, Vivekananda became absorbed in the spiritual vibrations of the Temple. He felt his consciousness soar as he became enamoured of the bliss of the Mother. In such an exalted spiritual state Vivekananda forgot his desire for financial freedom. His only prayer was

"O Mother, please give me Jnana (wisdom) and Bhakti (devotion)." [1]

After praying and meditating Vivekananda returned to his Master and told him he had forgotten to pray for money in the Presence of Kali. Ramakrishna smiled and advised him to go back into the temple but this time to pray for money. Vivekananda returned but again he became so absorbed in his meditation that he could not bring himself to ask for money. 3 Times Ramakrishna sent Vivekananda into the temple to pray but each time Vivekananda couldn?t bring himself to pray for money. Eventually Ramakrishna compassionately said he would pray on his disciple?s behalf. He would pray that his family would always have enough to pay for the basic essentials of life. After this his family?s dire financial hardship was removed, although they never experience material prosperity.

Vivekananda was a great seeker, who eventually became a spiritual Master in his own right. This story is illustrative of how the human mind often doesn?t know the best thing to pray for. On many occasions we feel that if our desires for more money and wealth can be fulfilled, all our problems will be solved. However no matter how much money we may have we will never attain lasting satisfaction. Real happiness comes from our oneness with God. When we attain oneness with God everything else seems unimportant

The highest prayer uttered by Jesus Christ was

?not my will but thine be done? " [2] Through this prayer Christ surrendered his personal will to the will of God. Christ knew that our human prayers might not be in our best interest, the greatest prayer is merely to become with God.

Later Sri Ramakrishna offered Vivekananda all his occult powers. Ramakrishna even tempted Vivekananda by saying he would be able to use these powers to help others. Vivekananda only replies will this help me realise God. Ramakrishna replied it wouldn?t and so Vivekananda turned down the opportunity to gain occult powers. [3]

It is brings to mind the immortal quote of the Upanishads

What shall I do with the things
that cannot make me immortal? [4]


[1] Vivekananda
[2] Luke 22:42
[3] Vivekananda – Heart Life at Sri Chinmoy Library

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