“Do your best Lord. Other than that, you know what I want, there’s no use me repeating myself!” That’s Clint Eastwood praying in Million Dollar Baby!
Can’t help but wonder with all this ‘praying’ atmosphere I have re-subjected myself to this month, what a prayer actually is. One can assume it to be a fact that every human being on earth is consciously or unconsciously engaged in it or has engaged in it at some point or the other. The most spontaneous, obvious and widely accepted notion of prayer is; communication with God. Of course it is, no arguments with that, but the subject of the wonderment here is that; what next after the connection is established? What is supposed to be said or asked or sought…basically what is the reason that has brought the need for such communication?
The present general understanding and practice of prayer seems really unfair. In return for the life (with all its blessings) given by God, what a person does through prayer (the only correspondence God has allowed between Him and His creation) is, ask for more! Asking here implies anything material or immaterial. Without a doubt, God will still give (and does give) all those ‘things’, and perhaps more, to people who don’t ‘pray’ too. There exists a logical error in the general perception of prayer.
It isn’t due to the difference in belief either. For any people, who belief there is a super powerful force up there looking after them, praying is a natural phenomenon. Call it a Dua, a pooja or a prayer, all these exist for the same reason. This reason is what brings the Creator and His creations together, and this reason, according to general commonsense, cannot be an examination, money, marriage, etc. or knowledge nor forgiveness.
The seeking of forgiveness, one could argue, is not a basis of prayer. Well, at least not the only. Forgiveness lies, first, in identifying the mistake, second, in correcting it and next in one’s resolve to not repeat it. In doing this one can be imagined to be always in prayer….as they keep saying, ‘action speak louder than words”. What better a prayer can be than this!
It will be simple for people who believe in providence to comprehend this. If everything happens according to the will of the Creator and everything that we go through has a reason, an end and some good in it, then why are we praying at all! Since God is All-Knowing, All-Powerful and All-Wise, He will definitely give what we want and do what is good for us. We need not actually ‘ask’ for anything. Does this argument totally cancel out the need for the very existence of prayer?
There must be, surely, some expectation of the Creator from His creations. He is after all, All-Wise to know how easily the blessings bestowed by Him on His creations can be taken for granted. Prayer, to my mind, is that expectation.
The gratitude of a person in return for all the abilities he possesses is the object of prayer. The gratefulness of His creations is His expectation. And that expectation is fulfilled through a prayer. But does this mean that we are to just say thank you for whatever we get and keep quiet otherwise? Are we not to ask for anything? Picture this….
The words of praise for Him uttered by a person in the most difficult hour of his life are God’s expectation. A prayer is when this same person thanks God for giving him the chance of knowing himself for all his strengths and weaknesses and vulnerabilities and……for the very fact that God found him worthy of such a test and has made him stronger for more difficult situations to come. Defnitely the rewards that come unasked are the sweetest of all!
Without this understanding, a believer in ‘signs’ will definitely find himself unable to pray for the simple reason, that he will fear whether his prayers will interfere with God’s plan for him. But with this understanding of a prayer, being not for asking first, but for thanking and trusting first, he will know what to say or ask when he confronts God. And that will be a prayer, as God expects it. And hopefully accepts.
In the light of this perception, I think Clint Eastwood didn’t do bad at all, except for some rephrasing or re-wording. For ourselves when we confront Him next, we will pray…for the strength to endure, ordeals to come. Since God already knows that our current ordeal is Thesis!!
Written during a certain month of Ramazan which co-incided with my Design Thesis work. I am still exploring the concept.