A young child’s doll was broken. As she cried over the tiny pieces, she said to her brother, “I’m going to pray to God to put the pieces together.”
“Do you expect God to answer your prayer?” he asked.
“You will see that God will answer,” she predicted.
Two hours later when the brother returned he demanded of the little girl. “Well, has God answered?”
“Yes,” she replies, pointing to the pieces. “He said, ‘No.’”
This is prayer. You can ask, but you cannot demand. If he says no, then it is perfectly okay. Finally, the decision is with him. Demanding means the decision has already been taken. Demanding means you want God to follow your will. Asking simply means, “I am putting my desire before you, but follow your will – thy will be done, thy kingdom come.” These last words of Jesus on the ass – this is prayer!
A great poet, Huub Oosterhuis, says:
“No one can pray without words, because no one exists outside language and everything is a dialogue.”
Now, you see? Buddha says: Prayer is silence. And both are right. Oosterhuis is also right. From a certain standpoint it is true: no one can pray without words – because no one exists outside language. Language is for us almost like the ocean is for the fish. Language is our ocean.
So Oosterhuis is right. And because he is a poet, he understands the significance of language. Only a poet understands the significance of language – not a linguist, not a grammarian. The grammarian knows only the body of the language, the poet knows its heart, its soul, its spirit, its invisible dimension.
He is right: no one exists outside language and everything is a dialogue.
Yes, prayer is a dialogue. The part is talking to the whole. The part is addressing the whole. And you will have to learn this dialogue. Has not the desire sometimes arisen in you to talk to the trees? knowing perfectly well that they will not answer. Have you not sometimes said hello to a roseflower on the bush? You may not have said it because it looks so absurd, but has not the desire arisen in you? Have you not sometimes felt to talk to the starts? If you have not felt, then you have lost the capacity to feel. Have you not sometimes touched a rock with great love and passion? the texture of it! Have you not felt sometimes to say something to all the invisible that surrounds you? That is prayer, that is dialogue.