The Art of Praying

I ambled down the stairs awake but not quite alert and paused for a brief moment before my ‘swami ull’ or praying space. I light a pair of oil lamps daily first thing after I am done brushing my teeth and before I treat myself to a steaming cup of tea. Today I felt lazy. I wondered if God would mind. Before waiting for a response from my Inner Voice I went ahead with my ritual anyways. As I opened the door to the cupboard that housed my divine treasures a feeling of remorse overcame me.

Why was I bargaining at all? Its not like someone is going to take me to task. As I stood there debating my decisions I realized my relationship with God had come a long way. A long way indeed from the days when I wanted Her to make me slim instantly. Or pleaded with Her to ensure I grazed the passing score in Hindi exams. Over time the requests for instant gratification were slowly replaced with more realistic pleas like let me be happy all the time or let everyone in the world be happy and peaceful. Depending on the severity of my mental agonies I would demand that my pleas were met or leave the option up to Her.

Of late however all I think of is wishing her a cheery Good Morning and hope she has a day better than mine.  Funny how our perspective of God changes with time. In my mind She has morphed from an inaccessible colorful bedecked form to somewhat of an alter ego.

So a prayer has gone from being a prayer to more of a dialogue.

14 thoughts on “The Art of Praying

  1. Laks

    I refer to ummachi as ‘Him’ never thought of Him as a Her! So your perspective of ‘Him’ being a ‘Her’ was definitely interesting 🙂 Also, of late even I have been holding discussions with God, not necessarily when I am praying or in front of the the ‘swami ull’ but generally, when I feel the need to discuss and I am alone with not even Nandu for company 🙂

    Interesting how the relationship changes over time from bargaining to discussing. Almost like my relationship with my parents has changed from arguing/demanding/bargaining to discussion!! 🙂


  2. Oh wow Laksh, nice post.
    I have gone through the phases you have described with God, not there in the last phase yet, still keep asking for things to finish, give him deadlines, get angry etc etc. For me God is God, all empowering, kind, omnipotent.

  3. I do feel the same Laksh- these days. You prayed ‘Swami’ to make you slim atleast. During my college farewell, I prayed to ‘Swami’, that one of my most envied classmate should not come goodlooking. Now most of the times prayers are like, Ok… thank you for whatever you’ve given me so far. And don’t bother me much with any other., kind of conversations only. Strange.

  4. if prayer doesn’t yield answers, meditation is an alternative everyone can try.

    actually both practices are very similiar in that they focus the mind, and direct it away from the body and the ordinary world.

    maybe it’s just a matter of names.

  5. Well, at the current state of my life; I wonder if God exists most of the time. Somehow, to me I have always had only conversations with God….never have I really asked for instant gratification ever!! And becoming slim, well….I don’t think with regards to me, it is even in God’s hands 😀 Actually if and when I go to the temple, I just keep chanting some sloka or plain old Rama Rama (even in a Shiva temple!!) Don’t think of anything at all….don’t know if that makes me weird! One thing is that my mother also just keeps chanting slokas (her knowledge of them is way more obviously…but I know there are times she says specific slokas intended for specific use types…) and my father (as amma puts it) is full of “ninda sthuthi” scolding God!
    Guess it is all about thinking of God…
    A story I have heard from my grandma comes to mind…where in this guy loved his youngest son named Narayana…The said guy had done a lot of misdeeds and was almost sure of hell…but i his dying breath called out the Lord’s name and angels came and took him. Hence we name kids with God’s names!
    And another about Narada and a busy farmer who chants the Lord’s name only twice a day ( you must have read this in Amar chitra katha!)
    Interesting to note you refer to God as “Her” 🙂
    Again yet another long comment 😉

  6. @Laks: Not sure when God morphed from Him to Her for me. It must have been gradual. 🙂
    @SK: True. Same here.
    @Deeps: I have left many ‘prayers’ unsaid 🙂
    @Wanderer7: True. Meditation requires some form of dedication. Prayers on the other hand are pretty loose in terms of definition. Each of us strike our own paths.
    @Apar: Nice story. Like I said. Religion and God is what we make of it.
    @akay: Thanks!!

  7. A thought provoking post. My relationship with God has been the reverse. I never thought of God as a wish-granter and never much prayed for the little things. Indeed as I grew up, I simply thought of God more and more as a convenience concept for when my own inner strength failed me.

    Recently though, God seems to have manifested herself to me in a new form. A month ago I was terribly frustrated with the magical price changes on the ski trip we were trying to plan. Each hour that we looked the prices seemed to jump in huge chunks. It was just sooo frustrated that each time I tried to jump over one hurdle another would popup. Add that to other life stresses and I felt defeated. That was over 3 full days.

    As I fell asleep I remember thinking to myself, “God, I didn’t pray to you when my baby died, because I think I had the strength to handle it. But today I feel helpless and beaten. Help me. …………. ” And then I thought, how silly, “No really, forget that. I just want my husband and my parents to be healthy, live long, fulfilled lives and die when we are all ready for them to do so. Really, forget the rest”. And then I fell asleep.

    The next morning at work, the lady that I had only called to enquire with (nothing more) about deals in Aspen called me back to ask, “We’re holding this reservation for you at this lower price, are you wanting to book it ?”.


    Next when booking the tickets, we found that fares had reverted down. When the actual purchase was made, another option for a few hours earlier presented itself to be cheaper still. We took that option.

    And I hear myself saying, “If this is not a sign of God’s existence as a tangible entity, then I may as well declare myself atheist rather than agnostic”. So now I more or less believe in God. Where I always believed in her as a manifestation of my own strength & unconscious powers, I now aknowledge that there *may* perhaps be more ?

  8. @SIG: Totally get what you say. I am unable to express it in concrete happenings but there are times I really feel a healing presence. Like when I wrote my epiphany post. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hey Laksh,
    I can totally relate to this. I remember on days, as a child, I would even “bribe” God to give me something. But these days, it is more a minute or two of meditation, just to clear my mind and set off to face the day.

  10. @malini: Will wait to hear from you 🙂
    @Remah: Ah! those days. I have bribed God to make me thin. Did not work ever!

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