Pray for me, please remember me in your prayers
For as long as I can remember I have heard people request others to pray for them. Coming from a Christian background, I often heard my relatives say, ‘pray for me, remember me in your prayers’. Some of my relatives got more such requests, as I overheard others say that the prayers made by these select relatives were very powerful. Whatever they would pray for, they would get. Over the course of time I learned it was not just a Christian custom but that people from various religions and cultures requested others to intercede with God on their behalf.
Even when I was child, the practice of ‘praying for others’ did not resonate with me, but I did not understand why. However, I could not help wondering why some people’s prayers were more powerful than others. What special status did they have with the Divine so that their prayers would be answered? When things get really tough, if I get more people to pray for me, like 50 or 100 – will it help? Why did some people not get helped by God in spite of being remembered in other’s prayers?
Things became much clearer after coming in touch with SSRF and the teachings of His Holiness Dr Athavale. While we have a whole article demystifying the concept of prayer, here are a few things I now keep in mind in relation to someone asking me to pray from them.
- Major life events happen to us because of the destiny we are born with. The negative events in life usually prompt us to pray for a certain outcome, however the final outcome is usually fixed as per our destiny. For over 90% of the world’s population, prayers do not affect the outcome. The outcome of major events in life is mostly fixed as per one’s destiny.
- If an average person prays and his wish is granted, it mostly means that it was in his destiny to get that result in the first place.
- The efficacy of prayer increases with spiritual level. The paradox is that at a lower spiritual level, people pray for things to happen even though their prayers are not spiritually powerful enough to manipulate the outcome. At a higher spiritual level (beyond the spiritual level of 60%), one’s prayers can affect an outcome. However, seekers at this spiritual level do not feel like asking God for something worldly. Also there is increased acceptance of life situations as one’s destiny and God’s will. Hence one refrains from praying to manipulate the outcome of situations.
- At a lower spiritual level, one asks for worldly and emotional things, thus reinforcing the belief that Maya (or the Great illusion) is reality. By praying for things in Maya, one continues to be stuck in Maya. At a higher spiritual level, one prays only for spiritual growth or reducing obstacles in spiritual practice so that one can progress closer to God and come out of Maya and the cycle of birth and death.
- Prayers with expectation for some material gain or emotional outcome have no value for spiritual progress. However, they may help to create faith in a person which is important for spiritual growth. On the other hand, if it does not get answered people may feel disappointed and give up on prayer or on any form of spiritual practice. Some people even get angry with God incorrectly holding Him responsible for their woes.
- The only thing that can erase negative destined events or minimise their impact in our lives is spiritual practice. SSRF has clearly enunciated 8 steps in spiritual practice that can provide seekers with faster spiritual growth.
While the above is okay in theory, it can be difficult to remember during tough times and even more difficult to put into practice, even for a seasoned seeker. When the status quo of things that we hold dear are changed, the urge to pray to God and ask others to join us in prayers for a specific outcome is tempting. When people are desperate, they pull out all the stops. Apart from traditional problem solving methods made available by modern science, they resort to not so traditional methods. From consulting astrologers to psychics, performing some rituals through priests or tantriks, indulging in black magic, and asking people “pray for me”, they will try anything to influence the outcome of a situation according to their desire.
However, falling back on my own experience and listening to the experiences of hundreds of co-seekers, the faith that God knows what is best for me and my spiritual progress has become firmer in my mind. Accordingly, my need to accept life situations as my spiritual practice has gained importance. Finally, as per the Path of devotion everything happens as per God’s wish; I can only do my best in a situation and leave the result up to God.
Having understood the points mentioned above at an intellectual level and having experienced them through various incidents in my life, I would often find myself in a predicament as to how to respond when others asked me to pray for them, especially when those prayer requests asked for a material outcome. So I decided to bite the bullet and tell my relatives and friends how my view of the world has changed after listening to a Spiritual Authority and Guide and experiencing the science behind prayer. Sometimes I would get a blank look or hear silence at the other end of the line and sometimes there would be genuine interest as to how prayer can or cannot influence destiny. Word got around about my views and slowly the prayer requests reduced. Yet for the odd few requests which still come my way, I say to them that they alone are their best help. By chanting the Name of God they could protect themselves from adverse destiny. When we start spiritual practice, God takes care of our needs to grow spiritually.
Learn more about Prayer with and Without Expectation