By Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi
PRAYER, OR vandanam, is the sixth of the nine processes of devotional service. An intensely personal process, it may also be the most universal, for prayers fill the traditions of religions and cultures of the world, creating our most ancient ties and our most common language. Scriptures are filled with prayers that become our friends and companions for life. Nearly everyone has felt the comfort of a childhood prayer, or the companionable stir of belonging when familiar prayers are quoted. Prayer is often the very first way children learn about God. Parents teach their children simple prayers for bedtime or mealtimes. These early prayers teach children much about the way to approach the Lord. There are simple prayers of gratitude, prayers for the welfare of loved ones, and, of course, prayers for some coveted desire to be fulfilled. Childhood prayers often express fear of the wicked or of God’s wrath. They set up theological principles, such as eternal heaven and hell, that shape the behavior of entire cultures.