Question: My contemplations on prayer find me asking for a clear definition of what prayer is. I heard that it means to glorify the Lord. Also that chanting the Holy name is the best prayer. Also, that prayer means an intense desire.
What does a prayer mean? Is it accepting the Supreme position of the Lord and subordinating my will to His Will?
How can I pray with a heart that gets frequently doubtful about Krsna and His devotees? Nonetheless, I pray because I have seen nothing else working out and I have been recommended to do so. Reading some of your kind answers I felt like seeking this clarification.
Romapada Swami: Prayer, or vandanam, is the sixth of the nine processes of devotional service. The dictionary meaning of prayer is defined as “a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.”
Prayer is a unique way of expressing our heartfelt expressions to Krishna; it is a way of expressing our heart to the Lord. Prayer expressed with deep feeling and sincerity is what is accepted by the Lord. Prayer indicates something that is above us, higher than us, or even beyond us. That which the senses and mind cannot reach, prayers can reach, although we are using the senses and mind to pray.
The best way to pray in this age of Kali is to chant the Maha-mantra with all of one’s sincerity.
The real purpose of prayer is not to gain material resources or even spiritual salvation for oneself. The power of prayer comes when we call to Krishna out of a desire to do His will. Such pure prayers are not means to the end but are themselves loving exchanges between the Lord and His pure devotees. Whether we call on Him from the darkness of our fallen state in the material world, or whether we praise Him in the midst of His liberated associates in the kingdom of God, the pure prayer is the same: “Please engage me in Your service”.
Srila Prabhupada explains the meaning of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra as follows: “The mantra is a spiritual call to the Lord, meaning, ‘Oh energy of the Lord, please engage me in the loving service of Lord Krishna.’ This chanting of Hare Krishna is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, surpassing all lower stages of consciousness, namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. There is no need to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need of mental speculation, nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such anyone can take part in this transcendental sound vibration without any previous qualification and dance in ecstasy. The word Hara is a form of addressing the energy of the Lord. Both Krishna and Rama are forms of directly addressing the Lord, and they mean “the highest pleasure.” Hara is the supreme pleasure potency of the Lord. This potency, addressed as Hare, helps us in reaching the Supreme Lord. The three words-namely Hare, Krishna, and Rama-are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra, and the chanting is the spiritual call for the Lord and His internal energy, Hara, for giving protection to the conditioned souls. The chanting is exactly like genuine crying by the child for his mother. Mother Hara helps in achieving the grace of the supreme father Hari, or Krishna, and the Lord reveals Himself to such sincere devotees”.
Outlined below are few of the many benefits of Chanting the Maha Mantra:
1. One can be liberated from the effects of all sins simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord.
2. One is directly associating with Krsna by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
3. Chanting Hare Krishna awakens love of God.
4. Chanting Hare Krishna brings liberation as a side benefit along the way.
5. When one chants Hare Krishna, one automatically develop knowledge and detachment.
6. Chanting Hare Krishna gets one out of the endless cycle of birth and death.
7. Chanting Hare Krishna cleanses the heart of all illusions and misunderstandings.
8. By chanting Hare Krishna, one becomes free from all anxieties.
9. There are no hard and fast rules for chanting. One can chant anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances.
10. Krishna Himself is fully present in the transcendental sound of His name.
11. All other Vedic mantras are included in the chanting of Hare Krishna maha mantra.
12. A person who chants Hare Krishna develops all good qualities.
Also please find below the link to an audio lecture on the power of prayers and the role of prayer in chanting: