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"Yet another essay about prayer?" you ask.
Yes, I know how you feel. Countless essays have been written on this topic and yet many people do not realize the power of prayer. This is why I am writing yet another essay, in which I shall use you my own personal life experiences to demonstrate the power of prayer.
When I was a teenager, I was greatly interested in studying Hindu religious texts such as the Geeta and the Ramayana. Then I came in contact with some atheists who convinced me that there was no God. I lost interest in religion for many decades.
When I was forty years old, one day, or rather one evening, I was lying on a bed in the Calton Hotel in Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. I was alone in a strange country; my wife was in India.
My spirits were very low and I was in great agony. Some people who were in positions of power and authority had told me that I lacked ability and strength. This fact combined with a series of misfortunes that had occurred in the previous months had sapped my mental strength. In that hotel room, for the first time in my life, I contemplated suicide.
But I had been indoctrinated from my early childhood that suicide was a sign of weakness and besides it was a grave crime. So, I turned to God and prayed to Him in silence. I asked Him to give me strength to overcome my troubles. I did not ask God for success or for money. I only asked Him for strength to fight against my obstacles, and hardships. Then I went to sleep.
Next day, I followed the advice of my good friend, who too was staying in the same hotel. He had confirmed my thinking that I was not weak but that the people in power were using psychological tactics to weaken me so that I would agree to their terms. I clearly and emphatically told those persons in power that I did not lack ability or strength. I told them that I would not agree to their terms but would gladly leave their country and return to Canada.
This mere forceful statement of strength worked like a miracle. They agreed to my terms. In the weeks that followed they gave me high salary and I worked under them for the next seven years. During that period, I and my wife were blessed with the birth of two beautiful and healthy sons and my life became full of prosperity and happiness. I wrote six textbooks on computer programming which were published by prestigious American publishers and that sold in numerous countries around the globe.
I still did not realize the power of prayer. Then when I came to the United States around January 1, 1998, I had the opportunity to study the writings of Swami Vivekananda which were now freely available on the Internet.
I published his writings and speeches on the web site that I created and managed.
In 1999 I realized that there was one aim which I had wanted to achieve from all my heart. But I was unable to achieve that aim because I never really tried with all my heart. I reasoned that perhaps I felt weak. The following quotation by Swami Ji inspired me.
"Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin to say that you are weak, or others are weak."
Then I started working with all my heart on achieving that goal and made all out efforts. I did not pray to God to give me success. I always prayed to God to give me strength and to guide my intellect in the right direction. With my efforts and Gods blessings, I was able to achieve that objective which I had been unable to achieve for many long years.
To give you yet another example of the power of prayer, recently one impure idea crept into my head. I knew that the thought that I thinking was impure, was immoral. It was a sign of weakness to think such thoughts. But how to overcome that impure thought, that was the real question. Then I meditated on the following quotation by Swami Vivekananda:
O India, forget not that the ideal of your womanhood is Sita, Savitri, Damayanti; forget not that the God you worship is the great Ascetic of ascetics, the all-renouncing Shankara, the Lord of Uma; forget not that your marriage, your wealth, your life are not for the sense pleasure, are not for your individual happiness; forget not that you are born as a sacrifice to the Mother's altar; And repeat and pray day and night, "O You Lord of Gauri, O You Mother of the Universe, vouchsafe manliness unto me! O You Mother of Strength, take away my weakness, take away my unmanliness, and make me a Man!"
Swami Ji asked me to pray to God not once but day in and night out ask Him for strength. But I did not have to pray to God multiple times. Simply having faith in the teaching of my guru gave me enough strength to conquer impure thoughts.
To conclude, it is my belief that there is tremendous power in prayer. However, man should be free to pray or not to pray. If a man prays so many times daily just because of social pressure, such a prayer is useless. A prayer should be genuine; it should come from the heart. Also, man should be free to enter into any religion and to leave it if he so desires, without being afraid of getting killed. Man should also be free to follow or not to follow any religion or to become an atheist if he so desires, for a true religion never uses coercion.
I sincerely hope that this essay containing my personal life experiences will be of some use to some people.
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