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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Is it a true prayer or coming out of fear?

    What is the reason behind praying? Is it due to faith or fear of God or something else? Interesting opinions are being aired in this thread. Join in!

    We say we have faith in God and so we pray to him on a regular basis. We light the Diyas when we get time, to make God realize our existence and make him think that we are also good people. I do not pray to God much, but I have faith in him. When I get time, I light up some Agarbattis and offer prayers in our Mandir (a small place where we keep our God idols to pray).
    Some people say that we should pray to God daily and find out time for him also. In order to get good things and keep going in life, we should keep remembering our Almighty. Does it come out of faith, or sometimes is it the fear we have from God that makes us do so?

    In our Hindu culture, we say that we should take a bath, be fresh and then only we should pray to God, because if we do not do so, God will not be happy and he might not like it. Women cannot touch God's idols when they are having their menstrual cycles and they cannot pray; suppose if they did so by mistake, then what? Even they get afraid if such a situation happens, that the almighty might punish them in some or the other way.

    How do we describe such things - are these coming out of fear or they are really forming a true prayer?

    God never asks us to pray him, but we do out of our faith and belief in him and we do most of the times when we need him, when we are undergoing hard and tough times. If the fear was there earlier, where is it gone now?
  • #610300
    For me, prayer is more of a conversation with God. When I pray to God I put forth my requests to Him. I also thank Him for all that He has blessed me with. I do not pray to God out of fear. But, I do light candles on the altar at home and pray every day.

    I also go to Church on every Sunday and every Holy Day that the Church appoints. For me going to Church is like second nature maybe because I have been doing so all my life. It is a ritual that I have been practising, without any questions asked. But again, I do not do so out of any fear, even though going to Church on Sunday is an obligation prescribed by the Catholic Church. It is more of a tradition thing I guess, which is deeply ingrained in me, and in every person of my faith.

    "A love affair with knowledge will never end in heartbreak." -Michael Garrett Marino

  • #610301
    Well what I feel that when there is a place of worship, it must be attended by the faithfuls and devotees. What is the use of having Masjid when there is no Namaz has been rendered, what is the use of Gurudwara when there is no Shabad Kirtan was not recited, what is the use of a temple when there is no daily rituals of Pooja held and what is teh use of Church, where there is no mass held. What I mean to say that places of worship are there to be attended and prayed for our well being and well being of all. The more we pray the God, the more the strength a place of worship gets .
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #610302
    Prayer is a medium of communication between you and the creator. Prayer should never be out of fear, are we afraid to communicate with our parents? We never have to prove our existence to God. We should communicate with him because we want to communicate with him, not under any pressure or tradition. Our God is accessible at all times and it's not like we should wash to go in his presence. Washing our outer self will not make us holy because what is in heart and mind is what makes us holy.

    If a person murders someone but washes himself clean and goes in the presence of the LORD isn't it hypocrisy?

    God has blessed women with menstrual cycles, it's not a curse, to say that God wouldn't like it if you go in his presence is foolishness, because God is everywhere you cannot define a place to say that God exists only here. So if we go by the philosophy that God doesn't like it when we during our monthly periods would make us go invisible. , because God is there everywhere.

    When you have fallen in any circumstances kneel before GOD when he raises you up again kneel before GOD. We should always be in touch with GOD by reading his word and by praying so that not it would be two-way communication and not just one.

    One thing is for sure, Prayer should never be out of fear it should be from the heart.

  • #610303
    Although in today's day and age there have been a lot of outspoken debates and writings which dispel the fear you mention, there are still people who will strongly believe in following the practices associated with prayer passed on to them by previous generations. It may not necessarily be fear as such, but merely just adhering to age-old guidelines, either automatically doing so or being forced to do so as per family traditions.

    The physical act of folding one's hands before an idol, lighting a diya or candle and closing one's eyes to pray should not be given as much importance as the faith one has in the Almighty. For those who believe in God, simply having faith in one's heart is sufficient.

    When people come at you with their worst, you should come at them with your best (advice given to Selena Gomez by her mother, quoted in Time magazine.)

  • #610308
    With reference to K Mohan's response #610301, it is implied that a place of worship is "strengthened" by the devotees who come to pray and by the type of prayers/rituals held there. I disagree. Suppose a place of worship is built and no rituals are ever held there or nobody steps in to pray. How does it make it any less a place of worship? A place of worship has a certain dignified sanctity of its own. It creates a space of calm and peace by just being there.

    Somebody may even step into a place of worship just to experience the peace that embraces the structure from within and not necessarily to bow the head or to kneel and pray. I have been to churches where I have simply sat in the pews and found peace in the silence and felt the presence of God. I have been to temples where I just admired the architectural styles and marvelled at the manner in which it conveys the presence of God - such as the echoes which reverberate from the temple bell or the way in which the sunlight slants through narrow slits in the roof to bathe the entire temple in light.

    When people come at you with their worst, you should come at them with your best (advice given to Selena Gomez by her mother, quoted in Time magazine.)

  • #610309
    Vandana I bet, when there is no devotee visitors or prayers held at the place of worship, people wont throng that places and slowly that would loose the charm also. I can cite so many places of worship with examples in Hyderabad,
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #610310
    It is not fear. It is respect. When we meet an elderly person many of us will say namaste to him. It is a respect we want to show it to him. I think offering prayer to God is similar to that only. Many of us believe in life after death. Many people talk about Heaven and Hell. As mentioned by the Managing Editor faith is sufficient and thinking of his help doing unwanted acts is also not correct. All these concepts of God, heaven, hell. good and bad is brought in to have some fear in the minds of the people and making them not to do unethical works. The habit of worshipping, praying and other spiritual activities are actually a sort of meditation which will bring in peace and thinking power to the individual.
    always confident

  • #610311
    Nice to see everybody's responses so far on the prayers that we do. Though I should have mentioned that these are things that I have seen often happening.
    As Vandana Mam has described my thought very clearly that the fear I talked of is merely just adhering to age-old guidelines, either automatically doing so or being forced to do so as per family traditions. So, one of my question again is how this thought can be overcome at this point, because somehow we are creating that little fear that "Oh! what will happen if I do not pray as has been dictated by our parents". We somehow think, its not nice, if our father is telling us to do it, then what will God think.
    @Neethu: I agree and I feel glad that we, the women have been blessed with menstrual cycles and it is utter foolishness to say that we should stop our prayers at that time. But, we still do, is there any scope that we can make changes in this part too, I know we say it and we even agree to it, as we are living in this rational world of thoughts. But, still aren't we following that old tradition where we do not touch the Holy idols at that particular time. We say and only say it, but at the end we are also doing the same thing. Then what is the need of calling it an 'utter foolishness', because we all have been doing the same stupid roles. And somehow, it is occuring due to that little fear, ... Correct me if I am wrong? Can we come out with a rational explanation for this one or these are going to be our traditional thinking.

    Do what inspires you !!

  • #610312
    Some people pray out of fear, some people pray out of respect and some people pray out of affection. The third type of people are nearest to God. They continuously interact with God.
    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #610316
    A place of worship does not require people to throng it. As I said, its very presence in an area is enough to create a site of calm and has, as you call it, its own "charm". What's more, let's not forget that places of worship have often played a huge role in providing shelter to displaced people in times of calamities.

    Anyway, we are talking about the act of prayer and not the place of worship per se.

    When people come at you with their worst, you should come at them with your best (advice given to Selena Gomez by her mother, quoted in Time magazine.)

  • #610318
    I don't bow down before idols, I believe the place where we are is the place to worship GOD. My friends do abide by not coming to the presence of GOD during those times, I try my best to convince them why it's not wrong to worship GOD even during our menstrual periods. So I can say that it is utter foolishness because I am clear in my conscience as I don't follow it.

    Change starts from within us if we cannot believe what we say we won't be able to tell others as well. Why can't we pray to GOD during our menstrual periods? This is not a curse to women and it is not to be shunned. For those who say don't touch GOD and pray during your monthly period, isn't that irrational? If it was a sin, why would GOD bless us with the menstrual cycle?

    Let us not just say but act as well. We believe in a GOD who has created us in the perfect way and there is nothing that can stop us from loving him and him loving us. This is not modern thinking or rational thinking, this is a reality. Isn't GOD everywhere?

    This is my personal opinion! No offense to anyone.

  • #610354

    As babies, we never knew the difference between God and humans, how to pray, how to light lamps. Certainly, God didn't ask us to build/visit temples and pray. It is the way we (from all religions) are nurtured by our parents, grandparents, elders, what we see around us and slowly subconsciously our mind is tuned to accept these without questioning. Accept the fact includes, God is there, we need to be clean to pray, we need to visit temples or places of faith and follow the norms. Most of us teach the same to our children now and that's how we have been for generations, may the intensity and pattern might have changed a little.

    As we grow up into adults, our minds start reasoning and most of us continue what we learnt as children, some of us give up these beliefs and become an atheist.

    To me going to temple and praying is acceptable and it is not out of fear but out of respect for God and respect for people who taught us this, it is having faith in a higher power and requesting HIM to help me, keep my family safe and healthy etc. At times of difficulty, these efforts may look more desperate but many do it with more sincerity and yes it becomes a true prayer.

  • #610360
    Prayer is really a two-way conversation with God. This is not limited to a particular place of worship, but if one thinks so, it is also fine, as long as it flows in both directions. God is not like a corporate chief who never has time for the people at the bottom of the hierarchy. God is fully able and willing to talk with us individually and at our own pace too.

    It does not matter whether prayers come from fear or only when there is trouble, or even just out of routine habit. I am sure God is magnanimous enough to accept any kind of chat-time and answer. It does help if the praying person stops long enough to hear the answer too. That would definitely make a routine prayer person to change drastically!

    I don't think God condemns for anything; he gives us chance after chance and along with it some consequences for our wrong choices. But he never gives up and keeps trying to help us in spite of all the mess we make of things. His consequences are always geared to train us to do better, and tempered to suit each person individually; but not as a punishment. That may come only after we die. I find only people who try to exact control over others to use religious scaring and say things like God is mad at you and will punish you etc.

    Consider the people in Syria for example. In the ISIS occupied places the people of faith there (Muslims, Christians, and others) do not have the freedoms we have here. But they carry on in secret worship, within their own houses or some underground places, and without any of the things found in places of worship. Are those peoples' prayers invalid because they did not have the religious aspects associated? Does it matter whether they pray out of fear or if they made the prayer with all the formalities and ID proof/residence proof papers?

  • #610442
    Well, I agree with your words Bala, it really does not matter how we pray, out of fear or respect, it is all going to God in the same manner, because he can understand the faith or if the hidden pain inside the human being. Nice example you quoted thanks for that. But what we say, and what we practically do are totally different things. I have found out one more thing, since everyone carries their own perspective, we cannot deny that too in terms of prayers and there is no point on raising questions on that. Since , everyone of us have their own belief and their own conscience.
    I thank everybody for their descriptive responses.

    Do what inspires you !!

  • #610445
    Good question. To be honest, I really do not know the answer to it. Definitely I have faith in Almighty but whether it is only faith is what I doubt. Certain times when I am about to do things which I myself know is wrong, the thought that God is watching on me stops me from doing it. Here, I think the fear of God works. When I am in a difficult situation or is badly in need for something, I keep on praying to him because I have faith in him that one day he will make my dream come true or he will find a better solution for my problems. I believe only he can help be from certain difficulties. And of course for miracles to happen, his hands are a must.

    In our childhood we are taught to be afraid of God, it is to prevent us from doing bad or wrong things. As we grow the thought also grows with us but not with the same intensity. We start to understand things and the fear will turn out to be faith.

    "Do not give up, things might not favour you always"

  • #610466
    Me too am of the opinion that prayer is a mode of communication. It is the way in which we pay our respects to the Almighty and share with him our emotions. A call to the Supreme power is made by us at almost every turn in our life. We thank Him for all that he given to us, we request Him for guidance and help when we are struck with something, we cry out our grievances and complaints to Him, we seek His pardon and apologize for the mistakes we do, we find solace in Him when we are sad or depressed. As is depicted in the advertisement of an Incense stick, each of us have different reasons to pray and fear is no doubt one of the reasons. We do approach Him at times due to fear of a divine retaliation to something which we have done and which we feel was wrong on our part to have done or thought so.

    I have a point to make here with reference to the response by Neethu at #610302 in which she had made a reference to women visiting Temples during their menstrual periods. This was a topic that has been in the headlines for quite some days in the recent past. Leaving all other arguments, for or against, aside, I personally feel that there is no point in trying to fight a custom or tradition that is believed to be connected to the sanctity of the place of worship. I don't think we need to challenge an existing system if it is regarded as a part of the rituals being followed. I don't see any reason to view it as a case of discrimination because the same is not applicable to men. Such protests being initiated by some so called feminists in the name of female empowerment and fight against gender discrimination etc are more of a farce.

    Let me take some general examples. Muslim women are not allowed to offer prayers in the main hall of a Mosque and men are supposed to cover their head while offering prayers there as is the case with Gurudwaras too; Women belonging to the Christian faith are supposed to cover their head during the Mass and there are so many similar and connected rituals that are being followed. We, with the passage of time and exposure to science and technology, might not feel convinced or comfortable with such restrictions but where is the harm in following it.

    Do you light a diya (lamp) or incense sticks in your puja (prayer room) room or place in your house with your slippers on? Why do Christians have to kneel down while offering prayers? Why Muslims require a prayer rug or prayer mat while offering prayers? It may sound illogical but then why challenge the same when you have a choice? Most of the time, you follow it not because you think it is a necessity but due to the fear that your prayers may not be heard if you do not follow the prescribed manner.

    Similarly, though menstrual cycle in women is God given, when the religious belief or dictum say that one should not enter the sanctum sanctorum during that period, due to whatever reasons, why should we challenge it? Different temples in different areas have different rules. Some temples in the South don't allow men to enter the temple with their upper clothing and devotees are not allowed to make offerings directly to the deity nor are they supposed to touch the deity. There are so many such beliefs which, I feel, one need to follow if you believe in a religion. If not, why go to a place of worship? God is Omnipotent and Omnipresent, one can very well offer prayers in their kitchen or courtyards. We need to value the sanctity of worship places and must either follow the rules and regulations which they prescribe or should choose to avoid visiting such places that does not allow you the freedom and comfort in the atmosphere you pray.

    Apologies if I have diverted from the thread but I thought I need to explain my mind in this connection as the same is also related to prayers and worship.

    Members may please continue with the main thread.

    'It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it'. - Aristotle.

  • #610716
    I agree with you Saji Sir, a brief explanation and that was really needed, as I was finding my point still very unclear. But, now things have got much clear in my mind. And I am not going to challenge the custom that we are following as you said. Also, I should not have raised stupid questions on that, since I follow the same my own self, I apologize on this point. But really, thank you very much for this, now my mind is clear about every thought on our prayers. No, you did not divert from the thread. All is well sir.
    Do what inspires you !!

  • #610718
    I totally agree that we need not question certain practices been followed. But when it comes to following it very strictly without budging and if it is an hindrance to one's growth, I feel that we should ponder over it. Why I had raised about Menstrual cycle was because of the below reasons:
    1. In certain part of our country, girls on their monthly are restricted from attending any major function.
    2. They are not allowed to pray
    3. They have to take pills so that they menstruate prior to any major functions involving prayers.
    3. They should not enter kitchen as the pickles will turn sour
    4. They are unholy during those times
    5. They will defile the place of worship if they are during those time.

    Phew the list could just go on. The practise of sati was very prominent and women willing jumped into the fire as it was part of the custom. Had few people had not questioned and stopped it , it would have still continued.

    We need to understand that it's a normal biological process, this doesn't makes us unholy or unapproachable to God. God listens to our prayer no matter in which physical state we are in.

    Following practices blindly?Think over, we might not question our forefathers with the rules but our future generation will question us and we may want to answer them.

    @Pooja it's deinitely not a stupid question, one should really think what makes you pray. Is it the fear or the willingness. My opinion, we shouldn't pray in fear it should be from our heart as a communication with our loving father (GOD). You have raised a very valid thread.

    Traditions are made for man and not man for traditions. God seeks a willing heart and not the physical appearance.

  • #610723
    Thanks Neethu... I appreciate your response.
    Do what inspires you !!

  • #610728
    Neethu at #610718. I won't respond to all your points as I think I have made myself clear in the response I had posted. But I do feel the need to question point number two in your response above. What do you mean by 'not allowed to pray'? I don't think it is a possibility by any means. Prayer is a totally private and individual matter that cannot be controlled or restricted by anyone as is any other human emotions.
    'It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it'. - Aristotle.

  • #610737
    I totally understand you Mr. Saji, your points are very clear.

    But yes, they are not allowed to even pray, they are forbidden to do so at that time. You can stop a person from prayer externally but what if she prays in her heart, no one can stop that. So, why such rules? In some houses, it goes to such an extent that they are totally isolated.

    You said, "when the religious belief or dictum say that one should not enter the sanctum sanctorum during that period, due to whatever reasons, why should we challenge it? " so I just raised the concerns because certain things have to be challenged only then changes will come into effect.

  • #610797
    Good question! I logged in after almost an year to answer this.

    I believe that most people pray to god out of fear. Suppose if god says that he won't grant us any wishes for 10 days from now, all the temples in India will be almost empty for 10 days and I am 100% sure of that. Most people remember god only when there is trouble or during festivals.

    We can't prove that God exists and we can't prove that God doesn't exist either. So, I believe that traditions are the next closest thing and they can be followed even if they are irrational unless they are harmful.

  • #610825
    610797 : Mr Teja : "So, I believe that traditions are the next closest thing and they can be followed even if they are irrational unless they are harmful" - that is the truth. Even if I don't want to listen that, but that is something I found to be a technical way of answering my thread.
    Do what inspires you !!

  • #610860
    Our culture and traditions make us enrich. We should value those. In Hindu culture, what is said, it is scientifically proved. Getting up early, taking bath and worshipping make you healthy and fit. In menstrual
    Cycles, it is understood that body is not clean and fit to offer offerings to God. But we can pray mentally. Culture and tradition give us recognition. In marriage, a Mandap is built and many things are kept in Mandap, which is made by sweepers, potters, carpenters etc, that means we value their occupations. In my opinion, what is established, is established by scholars of the Vedic age.

    Service to mankind is service to God.

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