The Christian world is full of prayer. Right from our childhood we learn to pray to God. We pray for everything: "Give me five dollars more in my salary," "Do something special for me today," "Give me a delicious meal tonight," "Let me win a contest." When we start praying for all these kinds of things, there is no end. Our parents have taught us to pray, but they have not taught us what to pray for. They say, "Pray to God for everything you want." So we start praying, "O God, please make me be first in the examination." "O God, let me be first in the running race," and so on. This is the kind of thing we pray for.
Instead, parents should say to the child, "Pray to God to make your mind calm and quiet so that you will feel Peace and Bliss everywhere. Pray in the heart." But unfortunately, the parents do not tell this to their children, so from early childhood the children pray for every silly thing. Still, it is certainly better to pray to God for silly things than not to think of God at all.
The better thing is to meditate. On our path, we give more importance to meditation than to prayer. If children are taught how to meditate they will not develop the habit of expecting God to fulfil their desires. Parents can say, "If you meditate, your mind will be calm and quiet. You will become totally one with the vastness of Infinity. God will become your friend."
When we meditate we enter into Vastness itself and lose our separate existence. Unfortunately, when we pray, even if we pray for purity and humility, we feel immediately that our Father is outside of us and above us. We do not feel this way in meditation. It is better to pray than not to, but those who are a little advanced and really sincere in their devotion shall give more attention to meditation than to prayer.
If we meditate in the heart, what will happen? We will get the result of spiritual prayer in infinite measure. Naturally, God need not fulfil our desires whether we pray or meditate. But He will definitely fulfil our aspiration through meditation. What has God to do with our desires? On the one hand, if God fulfils our desires today, then tomorrow we will blame Him for helping us to enter deeper into ignorance. On the other hand, if God does not fulfil our desires, then we will say, "God, you are really unkind to me."
But again, it is better to pray than not to. If one has a desire to get something done, it is far more likely to be done through prayer than through leading an idle life. The idle person feels, "God will do everything for me." Yes, God will do it — after He waits for Eternity and Infinity. We also have to do something; we have to play an active role. It is better to do something than to do nothing. Even if we do a wrong thing, a bad thing, at least we will be making progress through experience. If we do nothing, we will make no progress at all.