Prayer is a sublte medium of communicating with God

Prayers carry a special significance for all the seekers doing Sadhana (spiritual practice), according to Bhaktiyoga (Path of devotion).
Prayer is an easy way of connecting with God.  When we make an intense plea to God, it is known as prayer. If prayer is to be described in simple words, it is a subtle medium of communicating with God.
Prayers too are of two types – SakaamPrarthna (prayer with expectations) and Nishkaam Prarthna (prayer without expectations).
Sakaam Prarthna meaning, when a person prays to God or to his or her revered deity or Guru for fulfilling a specific desire, it is called as Sakaam Prarthna. Sakaaam Prarthana does not lead to spiritual progress. On the contrary, we use up our Sadhana or spiritual energy in fulfilling that particular desire. Nishkaam Prarthna meaning, when a seeker prays for removal of obstacles in Sadhana, or protection from negative energies, or merely to receive divine grace, it is known as Nishkaam Prarthana. This kind of prayer leads to spiritual progress.  A prayer made for the nation or protection for Dharma too falls under the category of Nishkaam Prarthna because it carries the sentiment of Bahujan Hitaay, Bahujan Sukhaay(benefit and happiness of the people).
Sagun (manifest)  and Nirgun (unmanifest )Prarthna
Prayers too have levels of Sagun and NirgunWhen a prayer is made using words as a medium, it is known as Saguna Prarthana,while a silent prayer which just has the feeling of gratitude and surrender is known as Nirguna Prarthna.  Normally, the prayers of saints are of a Nirguna level.
When should one pray for others?
If we are below 60% spiritual level and we pray for the removal of problems of another person, our Sadhana gets used up at a rapid pace because without possessing the ability to heal others, we are either interfering in the other person’s Prarabdh(destiny) or are trying to protect that person from problems caused by negative energies. In both cases, our Sadhana gets spent.  Hence, it is improper to get swayed by emotions and pray for others without possessing the required spiritual capacity. On the contrary, by enhancing our spiritual capacity, we can benefit others merely through our power of Sankalp (resolve). Several such prayer which we call Stotras, written by our Sages, Hermits and saints have proved to be eternally beneficial due to the power of their resolve inherent in them.
One more important factor to be kept in maind is that the success of a prayer depends upon the Bhav(spiritual emotion) of the person and the spiritual level of the person who is praying.
Prayers are a powerful medium in subtle war(fight against the sublte negative energies)
During the present times, when the problems caused by the sublte negative energies are at its peak, prayers are the perfect medium of doing Sadhana for protection from such problems. If one cannot do chanting, one must pray.  A simple remedy to combat a subtle battle with negative energies is to simply pray and chant.
Make prayers an integral part of daily life
Pray as much as possible, in other words, if every action of ours starts with a prayer and ends with gratitude, and chanting happens continously during that particular action then one can consider that the entire daily routine has become a Yadnya Karma (sacrificial act), in which all the Karmaphal(fruits of the actions)  is burnt.
While praying, contemplate on one deity, so that both your concentration and Bhav(spiritual feeling) may increase rapidly.
We can  pray anytime, anywhere, at any place and in any language.
If chanting occurs consistently then one need to do prayer. On the other hand if due to problems posed by subtle negative energies one is not able to chant then one can pray earnestly just so that chant starts once again.  –  Tanuja Thakur

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