What is prayer? Chanting of mantras and reciting scriptures, of ten in a language we don't even understand? Knees bent in supplication, head hanging in guilt/shame, arms outstretched in greed or eyes spilling tears of fear, worry, anxiety, rage and sorrow, questioning 'Why, Lord, why me?'
These definitely do not define prayer.
Sometimes I've been asked: I pray so regularly and with so much faith, then why does God not dispel my fears? Why do my problems keep increasing? Why do I not find peace? Why doesn't God help me?
Someone very wisely said,
'God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can ring a button to get a thing.'
Can it be a meaningful prayer if one hand is holding a prayer book, the eyes and mouth move in mechanical unison while the other hand is on the chest and the mind is fearful for the well being of the heart? Is it an act of faith if someone prays: ' Lord I love you and trust you but please do not let such and such a thing happen to so and so.' This pathetic plea is a blatant negation of love and trust. To love and trust means that you do not Need to ask for anything; you do not Need to fear. Believe, simply Know and Remember that All is being taken care of without your intervention, exactly as it should be.
Prayer is a wordless, ongoing declaration of gratitude. It is an avowal of faith, an unflinching belief that all our needs (not necessarily wants) will be met with by the never depleting resources of the Universe. It is awareness of the steadfast truth that our most frustrating problems will be resolved, if only we hush the dissonance of despair and doubt thus allowing our Inner Self to connect to the Unmanifest Whole of which it is a part. Total surrender to that Universal Force does not only quell our fears, it brings us serenity and unites us in love and empathy to all.
Prayer is the exultant trilling of birds heedless of where the next worm is coming from. It is the melodious murmur of brooks, the patience of trees, the selflessness of the sun, the love of Mother Earth, which continues to provide for us despite the senseless rape of her bounties; it is the implicit conformity of all creation to Cosmic Laws. It is the speechless veneration of a flower, a butterfly, a rainbow or the evening sky ablaze with the grandeur of the setting sun. It is the kind word that lightens a weary heart, the smile that wipes away a tear. It is reverence for and a joyful confirmation of life.
Prayer is a stillness within us that empowers us to witness the Heavenly Symphony, enabling us to sway in harmonious accord to the Cosmic Dance.