This is a story about Mullah Nasreddin, one of innumerable tales about the mischievous Sufi mystic of thirteenth-century Turkey.
Nasreddin never visited the mosque nor did he ever seem to pray, which greatly upset the people of his community. Although he was loved and admired for his wisdom, the elders were no longer able to tolerate his irreverent behavior, so a group of them demanded that he start showing some proper devotion. He finally agreed and said, “I won’t come to the mosque, but I’ll pray to Allah at least once a day at a time and in a manner of my choosing.”
That night around one o’clock in the morning, everyone was awakened by Nasreddin shouting from his balcony. They heard him bellowing, “Allah, give me one hundred dinars. I won’t stop until you fulfill my prayer.” This demand for one hundred dinars went on night after night. No one slept.
The exhausted elders gathered together seeking a solution. One shrewd fellow said, “Let’s throw a bag of gold coins onto his balcony tonight when he prays.” The others, of course, rejected the idea of giving up so much money. But the instigator said, “Nasreddin is always true to his word. We will put only 99 dinars in the bag and, seeing that Allah has not met his demand, he will throw the money back.”
That night they crept to his house, and during his prayer, a bag landed with a clang. He stopped his shouting, and they could hear him carefully counting the coins. Confused at finding only 99, he counted them again and again. The eager elders were waiting below, expecting him to throw this insufficient offer back. Finally, they heard him exclaim, “Oh, Allah, what a clever fellow you are. You charged me one dinar for the bag.”
The next morning they gathered to ask him why he would accept such a deal, hoping, no doubt, to get their money back. He just laughed and said, “Allah doesn’t throw bags of gold. Of course, I knew all along that it was you trying to trick me, and now you are stuck.”
A good story, and a funny one, but, as always with Nasreddin, with a moral. God hears our prayers, but grants only those that are for our good.
Paramhansa Yogananda said that we pray continually. Our chief prayer is a semi-conscious stream of thoughts that run in the background of our mind, of, “I want this, I need that.” We need gradually to turn these subconscious thoughts from a desire for worldly goods to an unspoken yearning for God. Then, He will surely grant our prayer.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and many of us took time to give thanks to the Giver behind the gifts. Let us make every day a Thanksgiving. To give thanks on only one day is no more effective than to think that overeating at the big feast will suffice for the rest of the year.
Express gratitude to God daily, especially as your first thought when you awake and your last before sleep. Then, increasingly, the unspoken prayer in the back of your mind will change to craving, not for His bags of gold, but only for His love.
P.S. You might enjoy watching our recent Thanksgiving message we shared this week. We also invite you to join us for an upcoming talk series available through Online with Ananda, “How to Love and Be Loved.”