Prayer has an immense power to heal. Through prayer we can heal both ourselves and others—but there is one condition: the prayer must be selfless. Healing at a distance through what is called remote prayer is possible. The prayer acts in much the same way that a remote control acts. We may not see the connection between the remote control and the television, but the energy being emitted from the source (the remote control device) is being received by the television. If the battery is dead, the remote control will not work. It is the same with remote prayer. Selflessness and unconditional love are the batteries. Without them, the prayer has no power.
According to the Yoga Sutra, the energy emitted from prayer is eternal and cannot be sent forth in vain. This is also the secret of a blessing. Both intense prayer and blessing are at work in the process of an authentic spiritual initiation. You may pick up a mantra from a book and practice it for a long time without seeing much result—but if you receive the same mantra through initiation, you will perceive a distinct difference. Initiation must be accompanied by intense prayer and unconditional love. If either of these components is missing, the initiation loses its power.
Many seekers encounter doubt about the transformative power of prayer, since they may pray regularly but see little sign of transformation. For a long time I struggled with this question myself. Prayers that burst from us when we are confronted with life’s calamities are too weak to connect our heart with the Supreme. The same is true of the prayers we say by rote or as part of a ceremony. The formal practice of prayer involves choosing a specific prayer and focusing our mind on that—but when we do so, the selection of the right kind of prayer is of the utmost importance. The best prayers are those that have been revealed to the saints and sages, and because they have their origin in divine experience, such prayers are capable of leading the mind and heart to that experience. These prayers are always accompanied by anahata nada, the eternal music that is always playing in the interior of our being.
Remember: to be effective, prayer needs to be selfless. Only after meeting a number of blessed saints did I realize that I did not really understand this about prayer.
Most often my prayers were full of conditions. By that I mean they were not God-oriented prayers, but rather self-oriented. I said those prayers to achieve worldly goals—good grades, a good job, or the favor of influential people. Once when I noticed that things were not working out as I desired, I decided to make a concrete deal with God. I began saying this prayer: “O Divine Mother, if I become a professor at the University of Allahabad I will do a hundred recitations of the scripture Durga Saptashati at thy shrine, Vindhya Vasani.” Deep in my heart I was not fully convinced that prayers alone could help me achieve this goal, so during the period I was saying this prayer I also visited the university authorities I thought would help me get the job. Yet long before the selection committee met, I heard that someone else would be chosen.
While puzzling over why my prayers were not heard, I met someone who helped me realize that the highest kind of prayer has nothing to do with worldly goals. God is not a petty-minded merchant with whom we can negotiate. The will of the Divine is unfailing and ever-auspicious, I discovered, and that is why the heart of real prayer is surrender. When we surrender to divine will, we rise above the realm of desire and attachment; our desires and goals are no longer our own. Then we are no longer concerned with whether or not our prayers are effective. We understand that everything that happens happens through the will of the Divine. We come to accept everything as divine will and find delight in it. A person familiar with the secrets of divine will and self-surrender knows that even loss and failure are manifestations of divine grace.
Prayer is a means of unfolding our own willpower and connecting ourselves with the Divine within. It is an invisible thread of sounds connecting the individual with the Supreme, and it is strengthened when spun with feelings of faith, love, and total surrender.
Source: Inner Quest by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait