Question: I am not sure about the purpose of prayer. If our aim is to surrender — as the Christ said, "Let Thy Will be done" — why should we be asking God to do something?

Sri Chinmoy: Is it a crime to ask for good things, not bad things? You can pray to God, “Make me my Guru’s best disciple.” I do not think you will ask God to give you ten cars! Always we have to make a good choice. To pray for good things is not bad at all: “God, give me peace, give me joy, give me love.” Then we will say, “God, it is up to You whether to give me these things today or tomorrow, in ten days’ time or in twenty years’ time.” God will be happy that we are asking Him for peace. Then a day will come when we have peace, love and light in a very large measure. At that time, we can start telling God, “Give me whatever You want to give me. Do whatever You want to do with my life.”

You have to be active and dynamic inwardly as well as outwardly. Once you have received some light from God, you can say, “Thy Will be done.” Once you have made your surrender complete, you do not have to say, “Give me this, give me that.” But to make your surrender complete, first you have to pray to God and meditate on God. It is only on the strength of your prayer and meditation that you will be able to become one with God’s Will. If you do not pray or meditate, you will simply be lethargic. You will wallow in the pleasures of idleness and say, “Oh, God will do everything for me.” Why should God do anything for lazy seekers? So, you have to make a choice whether you want light or darkness. We are already in darkness, but if we do not strive for light, then we will remain in darkness.

The Christ said, “Let Thy Will be done.” But before he made his immortal utterance, he prayed, he meditated, he did everything. Then he said, “Now it is up to You.” Otherwise, what is the difference between a God-seeker and people in the street? If surrender means doing nothing and saying, “Let Thy Will be done,” then the street vagabonds who are drinking and smoking have surrendered! Does God need that kind of surrender? No! Always we must pray for good things: “Please, God, give me peace, give me light, give me joy, give me divine love.” Then we wait for God’s Hour when He will fulfil our snow-white prayer.

Always pray and meditate. Prayer is much easier than meditation. Again, while you are praying to God to give you something good, your mind may not be there, or your heart may not be there. Like a parrot, you may be praying. But if you meditate, you have to be serious. At that time you will not allow any thought to come. Everything has to be calm and quiet. Otherwise what kind of meditation is it? Meditation is much more difficult than prayer, but prayer is needed.

The difficulty with prayer is that if you do not get the results, you may become disappointed or disgusted and start sulking. But when you meditate and make your mind calm and quiet, then you get tremendous peace. At that time you do not have to worry about what you are expecting from your meditation. When you make your mind calm and quiet, although you may not have achieved the thing that you want, the very fact that you have made your mind calm and quiet gives you tremendous joy and peace. There is an immediate inner benefit.

We may pray for two days or two months or two years for something, but then if our prayer is not fulfilled, we may become disappointed and disgusted. We may feel that God does not listen to our prayers. We have to know that sometimes God examines us when we pray for something. If we pray to God, “God, please take away my knee pain,” God examines us to see whether we really love Him or not. Then God may actually increase the pain to see the depth of our love for Him. If we really love God, we will not say, “God, how is it that You are so cruel to me?” Instead we will say, “O God, I prayed to You to decrease my pain and You have increased it. It is up to You. I prayed for the right thing, to decrease my pain, but if You want me to prove that I really love You, then increase it, increase it as much as You want to.”