How to Pray

C.S. Lewis said, “Many people want to serve God. Usually in an advisory capacity.”

Sometimes it’s easy to think we know better than God how this world should be—He certainly has allowed a lot of suffering. Perhaps he needs our advice! How should we go about praying for difficult situations? This is a huge topic, and I want to share one important point.

A study was done to see what was more effective: “directed prayer”—asking for specific outcomes—or “non-directed prayer.” In non-directed prayer, we hold the suffering person in God’s light, peace, love, etc. We ask for God’s blessings, but we don’t give Him instructions on what those blessings should be or how the healing should take place.

Tests showed that non-directed prayer was more powerful than directed prayer. Why? Because God, or Life Force, or divine Light is intelligent and actually knows better than we do what is the best way to bring healing.

In the 1980s, when Swami Kriyananda created the Purification Ceremony, I asked him: How should we pray for the people who come forward? He said: Just ask to be a channel for the light. Don’t try to figure out what you think the person needs. That blocks the flow of energy.

Does this mean that we pray with no energy? Or with a sort of “Whatever you want, God” attitude? No. To be effective, prayers must be done with a lot of energy. We should pray with a strong, positive and affirmative attitude, knowing that God’s healing light is flowing into the person or situation as we pray. The One who created us loves us much more than any human parent and wants our highest happiness and well-being. Prayer helps open the doorway for that healing to flow more dynamically.

Yogananda said: Think of God always as the Nearest of the Near, and you will find Him to be Nearest of the Near, Dearest of the Dear. As we pray for others or for ourselves, feel His loving nearness flowing through you.

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