My “first prayer,” as I’ve come to think of it, was made when I about 22 years old. I had just begun meditating and was beginning to look at life from a spiritual point of view.
I’m sure that I had prayed when I was a child, but in high school I had been an atheist and went through years of spiritual doubt. After high school my spiritual coldness had begun to thaw — but I still wasn’t someone who prayed. Did God really answer prayers? Did He even hear them? Maybe, but I didn’t know.
So I thought, Why not try it out? As I was falling asleep one night on the floor of my room — I thought it would be cool to have a mattress on the floor — I heard a sound.
Our cat had been in the habit of sneaking into my room, then waiting until the middle of the night to start meowing to be let out. Why cats do this sort of thing, I can’t imagine! But, I thought, if that noise was the cat, it would be better to do something about it now.
I was too tired to get up and look for it, so I prayed:
God, if the cat is in my room, please let me know, so I can put it out.
Surprised, I felt my attention being turned toward my left (guided, it seemed?). A moment later, the little fuzzy head of a cat peered innocently down over the edge of my desk.
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda’s Guru, Sri Yukteswar, is quoted as saying,
The Lord responds to all and works for all.… Seldom do men realize how often God heeds their prayers.
If my prayer seemed absurdly small, its effects were not, because it was evidence for me that a power greater than myself was listening — that I was connected via some invisible link to all beings, even animals.
As I continued to meditate every day, and as I began to pray more often, the evidence increased. It began to look very suspiciously like Someone, some Great Consciousness, was behind it all.