Part VSCS 278-283. Questions asked by seekers attending a lecture that Sri Chinmoy gave at Oxford University on 19 June 1976.
Question: If I pray for my father, will this benefit his soul's evolution despite the fact that he does not lead a spiritual life?Sri Chinmoy: If one does not lead a spiritual life and another member of his family prays and meditates for him, naturally it will help. But if the person consciously rejects the love and the spiritual help that he is getting, then he won’t get any benefit. Suppose a member of your family does not accept the spiritual life, but you have accepted it soulfully and you are praying for that person just because he is a member of your family. Your prayer will definitely work provided he does not reject it. He may say, “I am too lethargic. I don’t want to do it, but if you do it for me, I will be grateful. I am hungry, true, but I don’t want to go to the kitchen. Will you bring me some food?” Then you can go to your kitchen and open up your refrigerator and bring food. Just because he is lazy you are bringing him food. But if you bring him food and he just throws it aside and becomes annoyed, then what are you going to do? So it is up to him. When you bring him food, he should at least eat it. If he eats, then he will be nourished. At that time it doesn’t matter whether he went to the kitchen himself. But if he rejects your food, then no matter how sincere you are, how well-meaning you are in bringing the food to him, you are wasting your time. It entirely depends on his acceptance or rejection. If he accepts, then naturally you will feel that the power of your prayer, the fruit of your prayer, will go to him. But if he rejects it, then it is impossible.
Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy speaks, part 10, Agni Press, 1977