For most people, what they are seeking in prayer is not God but security and happiness. Their prayers are only about: “God give me this, give me that, God save me.” Ultimately, what they want with prayer is well being, but they are not willing to admit it. If you genuinely want to take even a single step in your journey, the first step is to be straight with yourself. Only then can we look at crossing the threshold of limitations to true happiness and well being.
It is time we realised that looking to God will not help until we look at our own foolishness. If you sincerely look at your deepest motivation for religion, you will see you have never aspired for the Divine — your aspiration was never for the ultimate. It is for comfort, wealth, power and pleasure, and you think that God is a tool to achieve those things. When you seek protection or wealth, greed and fear become the basis of your prayer. This will not work.
We usually think prayer is a means to reach God. But what do we really know about God? If you look at it truthfully, you must admit you have no direct experience of God. You are just coming from a particular belief system. Using prayer to reach a God we have no direct experience of can be illusionary. Thoughts and prayer can open a person, but at the same time they can create hallucinations.
The illusory is a more powerful experience than reality for most people because an illusion has the freedom to become anything it wants. The cinema is more powerful than real life for many people. You can exaggerate the illusory any way you want it. When the illusory process gets exaggerated, it becomes more powerful than life. So prayer cannot only be misused, it can also be deceptive. If you want to come to reality, hallucinations must go.
People need to understand that it is not prayer which makes the difference — it is being prayerful as a quality and not as an act that makes the difference. Becoming prayerful means your whole being has become an offering; it is a process of offering yourself. Being prayerful is a deep connection with the Divine inherent in everything and everywhere. It is a quality, a state of being.
As you become prayerful, your experience becomes extremely beautiful. And when you are really joyous, you are much more receptive. Prayer no longer becomes a monologue, but a beautiful phenomenon and a celebration which brings great joy. Then we pray not out of fear or greed, but because prayer itself is the reward. Patanjali, considered the father of modern yoga, goes as far as to say that when one knows how to be truly prayerful, prayer is not a means to reach God, but God is only a means so that we can pray.