Heavenly Father, Divine Mother, Jesus Christ, Bhagavan Krishna, Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswarji, Guru- Preceptor Paramahansa Yogananda, saints of all religions, I bow to you all. May Thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts.
Prayer with Devotion
Prayer with devotion is a wonderful means of opening oneself to the freely flowing blessings of God, a necessary link of man's life to the Infinite Source of all benefaction. But it takes a long time for prayer to be effective when the mind is outwardly roaming.
One hour of Kriya Yoga meditation can bestow more effect than twenty-four hours of ordinary prayer.
Those who practice the technique of Kriya deeply for even a little while, and sit long in meditation in the resultant stillness, find that the force of their prayer is doubled, trebled, a hundred times more powerful. If one enters the inner temple of silence and worships before the altar of God with prayer and invocation of His presence, He comes quickly. When the consciousness is withdrawn from the sensory surface of the body and its surroundings and centralized in the cerebrospinal shrines of soul perception, that is the most effective time to pray. (Excerpts from Discourse 28, The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda p.497)
The Silent Voice of Prayer
True prayer is an expression of the soul, an urge from the soul. It is a hunger for God that arises from within, expressing itself to Him ardently, silently. Vocalized prayers are wonderful only if the attention is on God, and if the words are a call to God out of the abundance of the soul's desire for Him. But if an invocation becomes merely a part of an ecclesiastical ceremony, performed mechanically—concentration on the form of religion rather than its spirit—God doesn't much like that kind of prayer.
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:5, 6).
These words of Christ refer to entering into the "closet" of inner silence. Through scientific techniques of meditation such as Kriya Yoga, one learns to "shut the door" to outer distractions by withdrawing the life force and attention from the sensory nerves. Only then is prayer truly effective, the mind having been freed to concentrate wholly on the Father who responds "in secret"—in silent communion with the soul.
One who prays loudly is liable to become hypocritical if his attention is focused on the practiced intonation of his voice falling on his auditory nerves—words spoken for effect, to attract and impress others. This is the tendency of many otherwise sincere spiritual people—to show off their love for God, rather than strive to touch the heart of God alone. Unless there is simultaneously an increasing intensity of zeal and love for God, loud prayer can thus be spiritually dangerous. No matter how wonderful it is within, spiritual realization loses something of its intensity when it is expressed outwardly.
When your prayer comes from deep within, and your words are tipsy with love for God, then others around you consciously enjoy your contact with God and drink of the contagion of your love for Him. But if you are not very strong, they may steal that love from you. They begin to praise you; and if you feel flattered that because you have inspired others, therefore you must be great, then you become weakened—your love is stolen from your heart, and pride takes its place.
Sometimes, no loud or even whispered words can I pray; for when deep feeling for God possesses you, you cannot utter any words. That love is sacred within, an inner communion, silently giving its oblations into the Spirit. Like a secret fire, that love burns the darkness from around the soul, and in that light you behold the mightiness of Spirit. (p.492)
In all our pursuits we are seeking the fulfillment of love and joy. The motive behind the evil ways of even the greatest sinner is that he expects to attain there from something that will lead to happiness. God is that happiness. But the urge to seek Him is drowned in the urge to indulge in sense pleasures. When that sensory urge disappears, then the urge for God automatically appears.
Sensations pouring in through the sensory nerves keep the mind filled with myriad noisy thoughts, so that the whole attention is toward the senses. But God's voice is silence. Only when thoughts cease can one hear the voice of God communicating through the silence of intuition. That is God's means of expression. In your silence God's silence ceases. He speaks to you through your intuition. For the devotee whose consciousness is inwardly united with God, an audible response from Him is unnecessary—intuitive thoughts and true visions constitute God's voice. These are not the result of the stimuli of the senses, but the combination of the devotee's silence and God's voice of silence.
God has been with us all the time, talking to us; but His voice of silence has been drowned by the noisiness of our thoughts: "Thou didst love me always, but I heard Thee not." He has always been near; it is we who have been wandering away from His consciousness.
In spite of our indifference and pursuit of sense pleasures, still God is loving us, and always will.
We must withdraw our thoughts from sensations and be silent within. Silencing the thoughts means tuning them in to God. That is when true prayer begins.
When we are in tune with God, we will hear His voice: "I have loved thee through the ages; I love thee now; and I shall love thee until thou comest Home. Whether thou knowest it or not, I shall always love thee."
He speaks to us in silence, telling us to come Home. (p.495)
Those who pray without knowing the scientific art of interiorization often complain that God does not respond to their entreaties. Such devotees may be compared to the person who retires to his study and requests a friend to call him on the telephone, but then keeps the line ceaselessly occupied with other incoming and outgoing calls. Try as he may to respond, the friend is continually thwarted by a "busy" signal!
Go deep into the inner sanctum of meditation, mentally praying with utmost sincerity: "Father, reveal Thyself!" Keep on until you feel that your heart is bursting with longing for God and you are crying inside, without crying outwardly. With undying devotion, mentally affirm: "Father, reveal Thyself unto me! Thou hast created me; therefore, Thou must redeem me. I did not ask to be created; but since Thou hast put me here in human life, Thou must reveal Thyself unto me. As Thy children, it is our privilege to love Thee, for Thou art ours. We pray and ask Thee as our Father: Reveal Thyself. It is not Thy pity that we want, but Thy love—for Thou art our Father and we are Thy children. Heavenly Father, as Thy true devotees, we know we can never perish, but will find eternal life in Thee. With all the earnestness of our hearts we pray, reveal Thyself! ...
Every night in meditation, throw yourself at the feet of the Lord. From the depths of your heart, cry to Him. Cry for Him until your head and your heart seem to burst with longing for Him: "You must come. Reveal Thyself to me!" If you do not give up, the Lord will come unto you. He will awaken you from this dream world and lift you to His bosom of eternal light, immortality, and freedom.
(from 'Connecting Your Life with the Astral World' by Paramahansa Yogananda)