“Considering the vastness of the universe, with its countless billions of galaxies, surely it is superstitious to believe that the Creator of this immensity listens to our prayers.” A scientist once challenged Paramhansa Yogananda with these words.
The Master replied with profound wisdom, as well as gentle wit: “Your conception of Infinity is too finite! Although the Lord is infinitely vast, He is also infinitesimally small. He is as conscious of every human thought, every feeling, as He is of the movements of the vast galaxies.”
Jesus Christ spoke a similar truth: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without the knowledge of Our Father. Even the very hairs on your head are counted.”
If God is watching the least little sparrow, why does it often feel that His attention is elsewhere when we need Him? In his beautiful book, Whispers from Eternity, Yogananda guides us on how to pray effectively to draw a divine response.
First, he suggests that we think of prayers not as beggarly petitions, but as demands that we can rightfully make because we are God’s children. Then, he recommends these simple steps:
- Calm your mind with a brief period of meditation.
- Concentrate on a specific prayer-demand, and saturate it with devotion.
- Feel that behind the screen of your devotional demand, God is listening to the silent words of your soul.
- Remain concentrated and calm. You won’t be able to focus your soul power if your mind becomes restless or agitated.
- Believe absolutely that God has heard your prayer-demand.
Once we have done our best, we still need to understand that our prayers may not always be answered in the way we expect. Don’t jump to the false conclusion that God hasn’t heard you.
The challenges that we face in life are drawn by our own past actions—our karma. Why would God override the laws that He Himself has set in motion? As Omar Khayyam stated in his Rubaiyat (as paraphrased by Yogananda), “No amount of moral living, no theological hair-splitting, nor any piteous tears can erase a single one of them.” So don’t plead for amnesty from Divine Law, but demand deeper understanding as well as the strength to learn from and overcome all obstacles.
In the last analysis, the most important aspect of prayer is not the favors received, the problems removed, or even the understanding gained. It’s simply learning to trust that God really is listening, and to speak to Him with complete openness and honesty. Once we realize that He’s present for us eternally, we can live with an inner reassurance that everything in our life is, always was, and will continue to be held in the loving sight of God.
Your friend on the journey,