Prayer begging for gratitude?

Ma Prem Naina
What is true prayer? Is it seeking the Divine’s blessings or requesting for a favour? Ordinarily we think prayer is asking for something, demanding or complaining. We think our desires can be fulfilled if we pray to God. We go to God’s door to ask for something, as a beggar. But prayer can never be begging; prayer can only be a thankfulness, a gratitude. When we go to beg, our prayer is not the end, it is just a means and if we make prayer a means, it is a sin. This kind of prayer is not significant because we are praying to get something; that something is significant, not prayer. Many times when our desires are not fulfilled, we drop praying. Prayer can never be a means, just as love can never be a means. Love is the end. When we love, we simply love; love in itself has an intrinsic value. It is so blissful. Nothing is beyond it, there is no result to be sought through it. It is not a means to some end, it is the end.
Love is just a step towards prayer; one has to learn it. Love means this is the end, and there is no ego in it. When one is egoless there is love. Then one can simply give without asking, without any return. Then he/she simply gives because giving is so beautiful, sharing is so wonderful without any bargain. When there is no bargain, no ego, love flows; then one are not frozen, then one just melts. This melting has to be learned because only then can we pray.
Prayer is love – we simply go and enjoy it, not asking, not begging. Prayer itself, intrinsically, is so beautiful, we feel ecstatic and happy, that we simply go and give thanks to the divine that he allowed us to be, he allowed us to breathe, he allowed us to see, to listen and to be aware. We have not earned it, this is a gift. When we realize this, then we simply go to the temple with a deep thankfulness, just to give thanks: “Whatsoever you have given me, it is too much. I never deserved it!” All that we have got is simply a gift, it is out of the divine love. God overflows with his love. When we understand this a quality is born inside us; the quality of being grateful. Gratitude is prayer, and it is so beautiful to feel grateful that nothing can be compared to it, there is nothing in comparison to it. Prayer is the climax of our happiness, it cannot become a means to some other end.
It is worth observing what happens inside us when we give something to a beggar? Is it out of kindness or is it out of ego? If one is alone on the street and a beggar comes he might shoo him away because there is nobody to see how he is behaving with the beggar, the ego is not in any way hurt. But if the same person is moving with some friends, then he will give something to save his ego. But this is not the right sharing because it is not out of kindness.
Osho says “Kindness gives for a different reason: you feel the misery of the other, you feel it so deeply that you become part of it. Not only do you feel the misery, you also feel the responsibility that if one man is miserable, you are responsible somehow – because the whole is responsible for the parts. I am helping a society which creates beggars. I am helping a society, a type of government, a structure, which creates exploitation; I am part of it and this beggar is a victim. You feel not only kindness, you feel responsibility: you have to do something. And if you give to this beggar, you will not want him to be thankful to you. Rather, you should be thankful to him if it is out of kindness, because he accepted your alms. The society continues and you have much investment in the society which creates this beggary. Give out of your love, give out of your kindness then it is not alms, then you are simply sharing with a friend. When the beggar becomes a friend it is totally different: you are not higher than the beggar, you are not doing something great to the beggar, the ego is not fulfilled.”
Prayer is not saying something to god, on the contrary, prayer means listening to god. If we can at all say something it can only be a thank you. A simple yes is enough. But organized religions all over the world have been teaching people unnecessary prayers and people are only repeating those prayers like a parrot. They have lost all meaning, and reduced to pure formal rituals.
One has to learn the true prayer and true prayer consists of silence, it consists of deep listening. God wants to convey something to us and when we are silent, unoccupied, and open we can soon start hearing the still, small voice within.
Osho says “God does not speak from the outside, he speaks from your innermost core, he is already there. To be connected with your innermost core is true prayer. The moment you are connected, it is so blissful, so ecstatic that you can only bow down in deep gratitude. There is nothing to say, or only a deep yes. One may cry in joy or dance almost like a drunkard and that is absolutely right. Prayer cannot be Christian or Hindu, just like love cannot be Christian or Hindu.”
Man lives in falsity. So whatsoever he does, it is going to be false. If we pray we will pray for the wrong reasons; if we fast we will fast for the wrong reasons because we are wrong. So the question is not what is right to do, the question is how to be right in our being. If our being is right, then whatsoever we do will be right automatically; but if our being is not right, not centered, not authentic, then whatsoever we do, it is going to be wrong. Finally everything depends not on what we do, but on who we are. If we have the quality of prayerfulness, the is not even the need to visit a temple or the church. Then wherever we are, prayer is. Then every act becomes prayer, walking, eating or breathing.
Prayer is a quality that belongs to the essence and not to the personality. Personality is a relationship with others. Essence is a gift of God. Prayer belongs to the essence: it is a quality, it is nothing one can do. A person who accepts the world, without choosing this way or that, transcends it. Acceptance is transcendence.