Can you pray? You can go to the temple because that is easy, but you cannot pray. Prayer needs a different quality; that quality you don’t have, so you can only deceive yourself that you are praying. Go and look in the temple at people who are praying: they are simply deceiving themselves, they don’t have that quality of prayerfulness. How can you pray? And if you have the quality of prayerfulness, what need is there to go to the temple or the church? Wherever you are, prayer is: you move, you walk; and it is prayer! You eat, you love; and it is prayer! You look, you breathe; and it is prayer! Because the quality of prayerfulness is always there, it is just like breathing. Then you cannot be in a moment of non-prayer. But then there is no need to go to the temple or to the church. Churches and temples exist for those who want to deceive themselves, for those who have no quality of prayer and still would like to believe that they are praying.
A man was dying, a sinner. He had never been to the temple, never prayed, never listened to what the priests said, but at the moment of death he became afraid. He asked the priest to come, he begged. When the priest came there was a crowd. Many people were around because the sinner was a great, successful man; he was a politician, he had power, he had money. So many people had gathered.
The sinner asked the priest to come near because he wanted to say something in private. The priest came near and the sinner whispered in his ear, “I know that I am a sinner and I know well that I have never gone to church, I am not a churchgoer. I am not a religious man at all, I have never prayed, so I know well that the world is not going to forgive me. But help me, and give me a little confidence and tell me that God will forgive me! The world is not going to forgive me, that I know, and nothing can be done about it now, but tell me one thing: that God is going to forgive me!”
“Well,” said the minister, the priest, “perhaps he will, because he didn’t get to know you the way we have come to know you. Perhaps he will, because he does not know you the way we have come to know you.”
But if you cannot deceive the world, can you deceive God? If you cannot deceive ordinary minds, can you deceive the divine mind? It is just a consolation, a comfortable thing: “Perhaps.” But that perhaps is absolutely wrong; don’t hang on such perhaps!
Prayerfulness is a quality that belongs to the essence and not to the personality. Personality is that which you have been doing, it is a relationship with others. Essence is that which has come to you; it is nothing of your doing, it is a gift of existence. Prayerfulness belongs to the essence: it is a quality, it is nothing you can do.
What is fasting? How can you fast? And why do people fast? Jesus’ saying is very deep, deeper than any assertion of Mahavira about fasting. Jesus is saying a very deep psychological truth, and the truth is that the mind moves to the extreme: a person who is too obsessed with food can fast easily. This will look strange, paradoxical, that a person who eats too much can fast easily, that a person who is too greedy for food can fast easily. But only that type of person can fast easily. A person who has always been balanced in his diet will find it almost impossible to fast. Why? To answer this we have to go into the physiology and psychology of fasting.