Gireesh Gupta: Prayer is a gift from God to us
Prayer is a beautiful and polite way to talk to our Maker. Prayer is a way to cultivate our personal relationship and friendship with God. Prayer is the way to connect to God. Prayer is our direct link to God's Kingdom. Prayer is the quality time that we spend in the company of God to feel close to Him.
Prayer is also to praise and thank God for His beautiful creation and for His merciful protection of us. Prayer is to ask for God's blessings, guidance and direction to lead us on the right path and to be true to ourselves and to others. Prayer is a time to ask for God's forgiveness for our wrongdoings and plead for His mercy. Prayer inspires us to help those in need and brings us closer to God, because serving the needy is to serve God. Prayer cultivates the love of God's creation and helps us to be thankful. Prayer puts us on the path that leads us to our Creator.
God gave us the gift of prayer with many benefits in return. Prayer calms our minds in times of despair. Daily prayer helps us to focus on what's important each day amid all of our daily activities and tasks. Prayer brings relief from stress, pain, sorrow and anxiety. Prayer engenders peace in mind and body, and cultivates love for others and for God's creation. To forgive is divine, and it is the daily practice of prayer that brings out the divine in us and gives us the strength and will to forgive those who have hurt us. Prayer subdues our conceit and fosters humility. Prayer enables us to subjugate our material attachments and elevates our spirituality. Humility and spirituality are two important traits to foster in order to lead a life of contentment, gratitude, happiness and love.
Churches are the sacred and formal places of prayer for Christians, synagogues for Jews, mosques for Muslims, and temples for Hindus. Praying formally with a congregation in these places has the power of uniting people and fostering a community of brotherhood and sisterhood.
However, prayer can be offered at any time and in any place, as many times each day as we wish. We can pray briefly before getting up in the morning and before going to sleep, while working in the office, while doing chores around the house, and even while walking or jogging.
Some of us pray and plead for God's mercy only when we are needy, sad, fearful or sick. But God wants us to think of Him in a humble manner at all times, especially during the good times and not just the bad times. Just as parents love when their children share their happiness and not just their sadness, we should share our happiness with God our Father in prayer as well.
Our prayers may be simple or short, because praying from the heart is what is important. It is not important how long we pray for, or how formally we pray. A short prayer with a pure and innocent heart will win blessings, but a long prayer without heart is meaningless.
I encourage you to pray with a sincere heart and to pray often, to cultivate your personal relationship with God and seek closeness to Him.
Gireesh Gupta is an associate professor of computer information systems at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont.