Sathya Sai - The Eternal Companion (Volume 1, Issue 7, September 2022)
The Lord’s Prayer
Talk to Me with a loving heart. Pray to Me with a love-filled heart. Whatever you pray for with a loving heart, I will readily respond. You call Me “Sai” with love; I will readily respond by saying “Oyi”. Any amount of prayer devoid of love cannot move Me. If you call Me with love, wherever I am, I will respond immediately. There is nothing greater than love. Therefore, if you wish to have the darshan of God and experience Him, pray to Him lovingly.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
July 2, 2004
From ancient times, prayer has been a way to communicate and connect with God. This is the easiest and most common method of communication with God used by people of all countries, faiths, religions, beliefs, and cultures. The mode of prayer may be different, but every sincere prayer is a heart-to-heart connection with God.
Power of Prayer
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba mentions in ‘Sathya Sai Vahini’ that God always listens to prayers and answers them. There are three types of prayers that are sure to earn His Grace:
Prayers that arise from a pure heart;
Prayers that emanate from unselfish love; and
Prayers that do not have personal agendas or desires.
Prayers could be at an individual or community level, or broadly for world peace.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said that people pray for many things: wealth, success, good health, knowledge, etc. But the prayer that touches God is praying with love for love’s sake, not for any personal gain. Such prayers arise only from the desire to please God and serve God – nothing else.
In a beautiful review of prayers, Dr. Charles Allen says, “All things are possible through prayer.” The famous poet, Lord Tennyson has written, “More things are wrought by prayer than the world dreams of.” Such is the power of prayer.
How to Pray
But how should we pray? The disciples of Lord Jesus once asked Him, “Lord! Teach us how to pray.” [Luke: 11:1]. These men have been praying in churches for many years, but they still wanted to learn from the Lord how to pray. Lord Jesus, in His love for His disciples and humanity, taught them how to pray. He gave them the prayer “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name….”
In His infinite compassion and love for humanity, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has given us the Lord’s Prayer. This is the first time in the annals of humanity that an Avatar has written the Lord’s Prayer in His own handwriting for our spiritual growth, Self-realization, and the redemption of humanity.
The mission of the Sri Sathya Sai International Organization, which bears His sacred name, is to make us realize our innate divinity, that we are the embodiments of divine love and the embodiments of Atma. We need to realize this and manifest this in our daily life through our thoughts, words, and deeds. To show the path and inspire us in reaching the ultimate spiritual goal, Swami blessed us with many discourses and wrote many books which were published as Vahinis. He has written many letters, distilling the essence of scriptures and providing guidance. One of these letters is the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Oh Lord! Take my Love and let it flow in fullness of devotion to Thee.
Oh Lord! Take my hands and let them work incessantly for Thee.
Oh Lord! Take my Soul and let it be Merged in One with Thee.
Oh Lord! Take my mind and thoughts and let them be in tune with Thee.
Oh Lord! Take my everything and let me be an Instrument to work.
This gives a summary of all the spiritual practices that lead to Self-realization. Now let me share some thoughts about the power of the Lord’s Prayer and how we should pray. This prayer guides us on the path to Self-realization beginning with Bhakti Yoga, (path of Devotion) followed by Karma Yoga (path of selfless service), Jnana Yoga (path of Wisdom), Raja Yoga (path of mind control), and finally merger with the Divine through surrender.
Inner Significance of the Lord's Prayer
The First line of the Lord’s prayer says, “Oh Lord, take my love and let it flow in fullness of devotion to Thee,”–This is the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga). Swami has said, God is love, live in love. Just as we can see the moon only with the help of moonlight, God, who is the embodiment of pure love, can be experienced only through the practice of this divine love. What is this love? Divine love is pure, unconditional, selfless, and changeless. It is eternal. In contrast, worldly love is selfish, conditional, and temporary.” He exhorted us to “Start the day with love, Fill the day with love, and End the day with love – This is the way to God.”
Divine love has to be one-pointed. Swami cautions us not to keep changing from one guru to another guru and have one-pointed focus on one name and one form of God. Finally, when we reach the goal we realize that all names and forms of God, all beings, and everything is a manifestation of that Divine Love. One should also have priority for God in life. So, if we want to have JOY in life, Swami said ‘J’ Jesus first, ‘O’ others next, ‘Y’ yourself last. Also if we want SAI we should give priority to ‘S’ Swami first, ‘A’ all others next and ‘I’ last. So, we should give the highest priority to God in our lives. In addition, this love should be love for love’s sake. That means there should be no expectations.
To nurture this love, as Swami explained in Prema Vahini, we should practice the omnipresence of God. Baba exhorted us to have the conviction, “God is always with you, inside you, outside you, above you, below you, around you.” When we realize and practice the constant presence of God, then we will never commit anything which is wrong and we will always have love for God (Daiva-preethi), fear of sin (Paapa-bheethi), and practice morality in society (Sangha Neethi). Brother Lawrence, the 17th-century Carmelite monk, exemplified his life with this as the only and highest spiritual practice. He emphasized the significance of this practice, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.”
The second important practice to nurture love is not to find faults in others, because it drains our spiritual energy. Therefore, we should always be careful not to find fault in others. Swami beautifully said, when we point one finger at somebody, three fingers are pointing back toward us. When we nurture Divine Love, we will bask in supreme peace (Prasanthi) and equanimity. Just as the proof of rain is in the wetness of the ground, the proof that we have Divine Love is the experience of equanimity—to accept everything with equal mindedness. Then we will treat profit or loss, honor or dishonor, and success or failure with the same cheerful attitude as His prasad, His grace, and His blessings.
The Second line of the Lord’s prayer says, “Oh Lord, take my hands and let them work incessantly for Thee.” This is the path of Karma Yoga, the path of selfless service. Love in action is service. Swami said the best way to love God is to “Love all and Serve all.” He also said that “Service to Man is Service to God.”
What is selfless service? In our organization, all members render service by providing food, water, shelter, education, healthcare, and other services to people in need. But the scope of service could be much broader, like making someone happy with our kind gestures, having a good smile and giving a compassionate pat on the back, speaking loving, kind, encouraging words, having noble thoughts, and praying for others. These are all acts of service. When we do service, Swami emphasizes that we should have the right attitude. We should always feel that we are not serving somebody, but verily serving God. Furthermore, we should see that service transforms our hearts. It makes us more loving and eliminates our negative qualities like desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride, and jealousy. This purifies our hearts. The purpose of service is to get rid of our egos and make our hearts pure. The two greatest obstacles to selfless service are 1) the ego of doership, and 2) attachment to the fruits of our actions. Only selfless service done without ego and attachment leads to purity of the heart. Swami says, ‘Purity is enlightenment.’
The Third line of the Lord’s prayer says, “Oh Lord, take my soul and let it be merged in one with Thee.” This is the ‘Path of Wisdom or ‘Jnana Yoga’ wherein we merge in God and achieve oneness with God. Then we see, in everything, everywhere, only God and nothing but God. We see that the Divine permeates every atom, every cell, and every moment. To attain this lofty goal, the best spiritual practice is Self-inquiry. Who am I? Am I this body, mind, and intellect? By inquiry, we can discover that we are not the body, mind, or intellect – that we are Divine Love, embodiments of the Atma.”
The Fourth line of the Lord’s prayer says, “Oh Lord, take my mind and thoughts, and let them be in tune with Thee.” This is the path of purifying and stilling the mind or Raja Yoga. Swami said that the mind can take us toward God, or it can lead us into bondage. He beautifully compared the spiritual heart to a lock and the mind to the key. When we turn the key in one direction, it locks, and when we turn it the opposite way, it unlocks. Similarly, when we turn our minds toward God, it gives us joy and freedom, and when we turn it toward the world, it causes bondage and grief. All spiritual practices are meant to fill the mind with divine thoughts. But what is the mind? It is a bundle of thoughts. Whenever we get any thought, we should discriminate whether it takes us toward God and pleases God or whether it keeps us away from God. Swami gave a series of nine discourses during Dasara of 1976 which has been compiled into a book: ‘Mind and its Mysteries.’ In these discourses, Swami shows us the way to control the mind so that we always remain submerged in divine thoughts.
Finally, the Last line of the Lord’s prayer is, “Oh Lord, take my everything and let me be an instrument to work.” It does not say “…instrument to work for Thee.” This is because of the realization that there is no distinction between ‘I’ and ‘Thee.’ At this stage of our spiritual journey, we do not exist separately from God. This represents a state of complete surrender–the last word in spirituality. We do not exist as a separate entity. All that exists is God. God is the doer, the operator, and the goal. Love is the source, love is the path, and love is the goal.
When it is realized that God is all there is, everywhere, and ever, then the goal is reached, and bliss is all there is. That is the power of prayer.
Let us dive deep into the Lord’s prayer, a precious gift given by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in His infinite compassion and love for humanity.
Let us resolve to intensify our spiritual practices to reach the ultimate goal.
Jai Sai Ram.