Prayer is a way of living. What do I mean? A man of prayer remains in prayer twenty-four hours a day. He sleeps in prayer; his sleep is a kind of prayer. He relaxes into sleep as if he is relaxing into the lap of God. When he is going to sleep, he sleeps in God. When he wakes up, he wakes up in God. He opens his eyes and the first thing that comes to his heart and to his being is gratefulness, utter gratefulness. He eats God, he drinks God. He walks in God. He breathes in God, he breathes God. His twenty-four hours are a continuum of prayer. It goes on running like background music. Whatsoever he is doing, that does not make any difference – the prayer continues.
And I am not saying that you should start repeating “Rama, Rama, Rama,” or “Allah, Allah, Allah.” It is not a question of repetition. If you start repeating, “Ram and Ram and Ram,” then it will be an interference in your life. Then you will not be able to drive rightly on the road, because your mind will be divided. Then you will not be able to do any work totally.
So I am not saying to repeat anything. It is not a question of verbal repetition. It is just a feeling, presence. Just as the mother sleeps in the night and her child is there by the side of her…and it may be the rainy season, with clouds and thunder in the sky, but she will not be awakened by the clouds and the thunder. But if the child just becomes a little uneasy, starts crying, she will be awakened immediately. Thunder was not enough to wake her, but her child….Even in her sleep a part of her being re-members the child. That’s how prayer is.
You live in the marketplace, you work, but deep down at the very core of your being, you go on bowing to God – prayer continues, gratitude continues. Sometimes it surfaces when you have a silent moment; otherwise, it continues underground.
Prayed is a way of living, not having, but a way of asking. It is not compelling, not wanting to live from power and possession, but imploring to be allowed to be. Asking is the opposite of demanding. Asking is risky. It is entrusting yourself to the silence and the uncertainty of existence.
Prayer never demands. There is no possibility of any demanding in prayer because we cannot claim anything. But we can ask, just like a small child asks his mother. There is no demand in him; he is helpless, he is dependent. He simply asks. When he is hungry, he cries – that’s what prayer is. It is childlike helplessness.
We are so small and existence is so infinite…we are only for a few moments here, and existence has been always here and will be always here. We are just small waves in this infinite ocean. We can ask, but we cannot demand. We can ask because we are not strangers to existence, we are not outsiders. We belong to it. We are part of it. Existence has peopled us. It is existence’s desire that we are. We can ask. But in asking, there is no demanding. If it is fulfilled we are thankful. If it is not fulfilled, we are thankful. Remember that. That is the beauty of prayer.
If it is fulfilled, we are thankful, obviously. If it is not fulfilled, still we are thankful. Why are we thankful even when it is not fulfilled? Because then the man who knows what prayer is, who lives prayer, also knows that sometimes we ask for a thing which is not good for us. Existence knows better. If it is needed it will be fulfilled. If it is not needed it will not be fulfilled.
I have heard: